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Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can make everyday tasks difficult, but there are ways to manage. Lots of tools exist to help with pain, mobility, exercise, and safety. Here are a few ideas to set your home up for success. Run them by your occupational therapist to see if they're right for you.

Illustrations by Craigio Hopson


You may have stiffness and pain during the night, when you wake up, or when you get dressed.

What may help:

You'll want supportive bedding. Pick a mattress that's on the firm side. Your spine should hold a natural position while you sleep. Avoid snoozing on lots of piled-up pillows. They may twist your neck. But propping your legs up with a triangle wedge cushion may take pressure off your lower back.

A heating pad or wrap may help relax your muscles and ease pain around your joints. It's OK to use an electric blanket or heating pad while you're awake. But it's safer to use the kind you warm up in the microwave if you think you'll fall asleep before turning it off. Always follow the directions so you don't burn your skin.

There are a handful of assistive devices that'll help you get ready. You may want a button fastener, zipper pull, shoehorn, or sock aid. Opt for clothes made with Velcro or elastic so they're easier to take on and off. Get dressed while you're seated or look straight in a mirror. That eases strain on your neck and back.


Wet places can be hazardous for anyone. But it can be even more so when you have limited mobility or balance problems.

What may help:

A grab bar or handrail in your shower or tub can give you more stability. You may be able to install one yourself. Just make sure it can support your weight. It's best to ask your doctor or occupational therapist which one to get.

Try a tub bench if it's easier to sit down while you bathe. They have ones that slide from side to side, rotate, or stay still. One part goes inside your tub while the other half extends over the side.

A raised toilet seat can help you stand up and sit down a little easier. You can buy an attachment that's padded or hard. Get one with safety handles for extra support and security. A toilet stool that raises your knees above your hips may ease strain on your joints.


Meal prep can take up a lot of time and sap your energy, so it's important to make it as easy as possible.

What may help:

A rolling bar cart can be a handy way to move stuff around the kitchen. Stock it with whatever you use a lot. The cart can help you cut down on extra bending and lifting because you don't have to bend or reach into your cabinets as much. Try to keep appliances you use a lot on the counter or at counter height.

Grip aids may lessen your need to push, pull, or twist really hard. Try an electric opener for jars, bottles, cans, or corkscrews. Or use manual tools like utensils, knives, or peelers with wide handles. Some are made specifically for people with joint pain and arthritis.

A food or vegetable chopper is another easy-to-use tool that'll take stress off your hands and fingers. Or bypass chopping completely by stocking your freezer with pre-cut fruits and veggies. They're just as healthy as the fresh kind, and you won't have to lean over a cutting board.

Tools for Any Room

Living Room

Comfort is a must when binge watching your favorite show, napping, or just hanging out with family or friends.

What may help:

A recliner may ease stress on your lower back. Some people like "zero gravity" chairs. Just make sure you get up every hour or so while you lounge. Your pain and stiffness may get worse if you go too long without moving.

An ottoman is another good way to stretch your legs out. These are separate pieces of furniture that you can pull up to your sofa or chair or use as a stool when you need to rest.

Raised seats for chairs or sofas can give you a little boost when you need to stand up. You can buy cushions -- or pile up ones you already have -- and put them on top of wherever you want to sit.

Office Space

Many people work from home some or all the time. But pain can make it hard to get work done. Whether you have a small area or an entire room, take steps to make your workspace more comfortable.

What may help:

Lots of people with AS prefer a standing or adjustable desk. You don't need to buy something expensive. You can even make one yourself. Stack up old boxes, books, or use the top of a dresser. Just make sure everything is secure and your laptop or monitor is at eye level.

When you do sit, back support is a must. Everyone's needs are different. You may need a chair with extra lumbar support or an added cushion underneath your butt and hips. Ask your occupational therapist what's best for you.

Sticky notes are a low-tech way to keep track of your ideas without having to crane your neck. Put them on your wall, mirror, or windows. A whiteboard on a stand or your wall may be another good choice.