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Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatologic Perspective (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

The following steps can help alleviate pain and stiffness in people with ankylosing spondylitis:

  • Practice good posture in order to keep the spine straight.


  • Sleep on a firm mattress.


  • Sleep in a prone position (on the abdomen) without a pillow.


  • Sleep in a supine position (on the back) with a thin pillow.


  • Keep the legs straight when sleeping, not supported by a pillow.


  • Do not sleep in a curled-up position.


  • When walking or sitting, keep the spine as straight as possible.


  • Use chairs and work surfaces specially designed to support the spine.

Regular exercise is an essential part of the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. Exercises that strengthen the back and neck can help maintain correct posture. Aerobic exercises, such as swimming, are very helpful because they promote flexibility of the spine and movement of the shoulder and hip joints. A hot shower before exercise often relieves some joint pain and stiffness and makes exercising easier and less painful. Exercise should be started slowly and performed when pain is minimized.

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The spondyloarthropathies (SpAs) are a family of related disorders that includes ankylosing spondylitis (AS), reactive arthritis (ReA; also known as Reiter syndrome [RS]), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), spondyloarthropathy associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (USpA), and, possibly, Whipple disease and Behçet disease.

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