The pain and stiffness of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can leave you feeling like it's a curse. Although having to live with a degenerative disease isn't something anyone would want, there are upsides to having AS. The feeling of empowerment you get from having your symptoms under control can carry over into all aspects of your life.
Controlling your AS symptoms requires you to make positive changes in your life. Many of the lifestyle changes you make to relieve your AS symptoms have a positive impact on the rest of your life as well. Because many people with AS have a hard time getting a diagnosis, you've probably learned to advocate for your own health. This, along with all of the other healthy measures you take because of your AS, can make you healthier than you would have been without AS.
What you eat can have a huge impact on your AS. Conveniently, the foods that cause inflammation and make your AS worse are also the foods that are generally unhealthy and should be avoided by everyone. When you cut trans fats, refined sugars, and processed meats out of your diet, you not only help your pain and stiffness, but you also reduce your risks of developing many other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Another important part of managing AS is getting enough exercise, both aerobic and strength training. Stretching programs such as yoga help relieve your stiff and sore muscles. As with your diet, the benefits of staying fit extend beyond just controlling AS. Exercise not only keeps you healthier; it also helps you control your stress and improves your emotional wellbeing.
All of the measures you take to control your AS are also measures that improve other aspects of your health as well. Many people find it easy to put off making healthy choices because they don't see the consequences of their unhealthy choices immediately. When you have AS, making unhealthy choices make your pain worse. The feeling of empowerment you get from being actively involved in your own health care is the upside of having ankylosing spondylitis.