Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the spine, which can cause some of the bones in the vertebrae to fuse. Over time, this can cause severe pain and stiffness in the back, neck, hips, and other parts of the body.
While there is no known cure for AS, there are steps you can take to help prevent your condition from getting worse. In this blog, we’ll discuss a few of these steps—including tips for managing your symptoms—so that you can prevent the progression of AS and hopefully experience as-needed pain relief.
6 Self-Care Tips for Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis
1. Maintain A Good Posture
One of the best ways to help with living with Ankylosing Spondylitis is to practice good posture, by keeping your head up, shoulders squared, and spine straight, while sitting, standing or walking. Practicing good posture can help reduce strain and stress on the spine, which can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with AS. Additionally, good posture can improve flexibility, balance, and range of motion, enabling you to move more freely and reduce the risk of injury. Finally, good posture also helps to maintain good spinal alignment, which in turn can also reduce pain and inflammation.
2. Exercise Daily To Ease Pain And Promote Flexibility
Those with ankylosing spondylitis can benefit tremendously by exercising daily, as doing so can not only help ease pain, but also promote flexibility, strengthen muscles, and improve posture. Moreover, regular exercise can also help to reduce inflammation, which can lead to reduced pain and improved mobility, and also help to increase range of motion.
3. Get A Least 7 Hours Of Sleep A Night On A Firm Mattress
Sleeping for seven hours a night can help anyone improve their wellbeing and energy levels, but getting your zzz’s can be especially helpful when you have Ankylosing Spondylitis. Proper sleep can help your body reduce stress and fatigue, both of which can exacerbate your symptoms, creating more pain and inflammation. Moreover, by sleeping on a firm mattress for several hours, you can support your body and promote proper spinal alignment. This can help reduce pain and stiffness in the spine, neck, and back, which are some of the most common symptoms of AS.
4. Try An Anti-inflammatory Diet
It’s well known that foods that are high in saturated and trans fats and refined carbohydrates can cause inflammation, which can trigger the body's natural inflammatory response. While this complex mechanism is designed to protect your body from illness, it can actually cause swelling, redness, and pain—which can exacerbate your symptoms even more. That’s why it can be helpful to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods to reduce inflammation and pain.
5. Take Warm Baths Or Showers To Loosen Stiff Muscles And Joints
As mentioned earlier, one of the principal symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis is stiffness in the back, hips, and buttons, and sometimes in the ribs, shoulders, knees, and feet. Taking warm baths or showers can loosen these stiff muscles and joints by increasing blood flow to the area and raising the temperature. This can help to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation, which can help maintain your flexibility and range of motion. Additionally, the warm water can help to soothe any soreness or discomfort.
6. Consider Seeing An Ankylosing Spondylitis Specialist
Experiencing an all too common Ankylosing Spondylitis flare up? Ankylosing Spondylitis flare-ups occur in many people with AS, leading to a range of symptoms ranging from chronic pain and stiffness, to loss of flexibility and even difficulty breathing. Even more troubling is the fact that flare ups can occur unexpectedly, with no known cause, and last anywhere from a few days to up to 3 months or longer.
If you’re experiencing a Ankylosing Spondylitis flare up or simply experiencing chronic pain as a result of AS, consider seeing a ankylosing spondylitis specialist, at the Comprehensive Spine Center of Dallas today. We can provide a range of treatments, including physical therapy, steroid injections, heat therapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to combat your symptoms and help you experience lasting pain relief.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today!