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Ankylosing Spondylitis, Orthopedic Perspective (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

It is important for people with AS to understand the disease. Ankylosing spondylitis gradually worsens over time and leads to stiffness and pain in the joints. A good, regular stretching and exercise program can delay these symptoms.

People with AS should not smoke because of the increased risk of problems with the lungs.

AS Orthopedic Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

Currently, there is no definitive treatment of or cure for ankylosing spondylitis.

  • Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn), are commonly used to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Aspirin has been shown to have limited benefit for people with ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone (Deltasone or Orasone), are not used for long-term treatment because of the high risk of side effects.
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and methotrexate (Rheumatrex) are effective in some people with affected extremities (peripheral involvement) with ankylosing spondylitis. Sulfasalazine is useful in people who also have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Patients with AS are thought to produce excessive amounts of the protein tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Drugs that block TNF, such as infliximab (Remicade) and etanercept (Enbrel), are also used to treat ankylosing spondylitis. These drugs target and may alter the disease process.
  • Since some studies have suggested an association between AS and infection by certain bacteria, including enterobacteria, some patients have been treated with the antibiotic moxifloxacin and had good pain relief. However, this treatment is not yet widely used.

People with involvement of other systems should see the appropriate specialists (for example, an ophthalmologist for the eyes; a pulmonologist for the lungs; and a cardiologist for the heart). Those with a painful red eye should see an ophthalmologist immediately.

Genetic counseling and support groups are useful in further educating people about the disease and in predicting those who may be at increased risk.

For more information on medications, see Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis Medications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/15/2014

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