So Now What?
AXIAL SPONDYLOARTHRITIS After Diagnosis
If it turns out that you have a form of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), you might feel scared or worried about what the future holds. Or maybe even feel a sense of relief in finding out why you had been in so much pain for so long. No matter what, it’s good to know how it will affect you moving forward.
AxSpA may affect your ability to take part in your favorite activities. But there are small, practical things you can try every day to help yourself feel better.Learn More
There are treatments available that can help manage your symptoms. By working closely with a rheumatologist, you can start taking steps to help yourself feel better.about Treatment Options
From lifestyle changes to diet and exercise, discover the different things you can do to live well with axSpA.Find Tips
Looking for more information about inflammatory back pain and forms of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA)? Sign up today to receive e-mails and other materials that can help.Sign Up
Treating Your Condition
Managing the monster
Managing axSpA involves more than medication. It’s a disease that may require your daily attention, and one that’s deserving of a long-term plan. Here are some things to consider as you begin your course of action against it:
If and when you receive a diagnosis, work with your rheumatologist to determine a plan to start treating your condition. Early treatment is very important, as it can help slow some of the irreversible effects—such as bone, joint, and organ damage—that these conditions may cause. Your rheumatologist will know the types of medicines that may be right for you, and how to best go about relieving the everyday pain, stiffness, and fatigue that lead to reduced mobility.
You may also be able to help those close to you. Even if no one else in your family has chronic back pain, a history of other autoimmune conditions among close relatives may be common in people with axSpA. To help talk about it with your family, download this Family Conversation Starter.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers that can help manage the inflammation that causes the day-to-day pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility of axSpA. They can provide temporary relief but may not always address the underlying cause of the disease.
Biologics are medications made from living sources, and target specific areas of your body’s immune system to treat the root cause of inflammation caused by these conditions. Rheumatologists may recommend a biologic if NSAIDs are ineffective at reducing symptoms of axSpA.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, help preserve joints by blocking inflammation but may not provide immediate pain relief. If you’re taking a DMARD, your doctor may prescribe another treatment to help manage pain.
One aspect of living with axSpA is that the more you move around, the more your symptoms can improve. So rather than focusing on rest and relaxation, moderate physical activity is encouraged to ease the pain and stiffness you may experience. With that in mind, the following activities may help you manage your condition on a daily basis. You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
Finding a balance between rest and moderate physical activity is an important part of managing axSpA. Moderate physical activity is key to maintaining flexibility when living with this condition because movement may help fight axSpA pain and stiffness. When looking for ways to stay active, consider low-impact exercises like light stretching and/or yoga, swimming, biking, or walking, which can all increase blood flow while loosening muscles, particularly in your back.
Practice Your Posture
By practicing good posture, you’re doing your part to keep your muscles and joints in their correct alignment, which may counteract the ankylosing or “bending” effect that people with AS may experience.
Decide on a Diet
Proper nutrition is important when living with axSpA. Try to eat plenty of vegetables, while also minimizing your intake of foods that are known to cause inflammation, like processed foods (such as cured meats and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup) and alcohol. Also, try to remain hydrated. Proper hydration is thought to be one of the key factors in fighting the inflammation these conditions can cause.
Strive for Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things you need to fight the inflammation and stiffness axSpA can cause. Sleep rejuvenates and helps your body recover from injury, illness, and especially inflammation. Sleeping isn’t easy if you suffer from one of these conditions. To help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep, try sticking to a routine that gets you into the habit of going to bed at the same time each night.