One of the best ways to take care of your health if you have ankylosing spondylitis is to take a proactive role in your own treatment – a process called self-management. Here are some ways you can manage your disease, along with adhering to your medication program.
Engage in Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is the most important component of overall AS management. The goal is to prevent permanent stiffness and preserve the range of motion in your neck and back. Deep-breathing exercises and aerobic activities will help keep your chest and rib cage flexible.
Swimming is a good option because it helps keep your spine, neck, shoulders and hips flexible. General strengthening and aerobic exercise can improve overall health and function in individuals with AS. Talk to a physical therapist who is experienced in treating people with arthritis about developing an exercise program to meet your needs.
AS can affect your lungs and rib cage, which may make breathing more difficult. Smoking will worsen any lung problems due to AS and is an important risk factor for osteoporosis (bone loss).
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining proper body position is important to prevent joints from fusing in undesirable positions.
Take Advantage of Self-help Devices
Self-help devices may make your daily tasks easier. For instance, long-handled shoehorns and sock aids can help if your back or hips don’t bend easily. An occupational therapist can advise you about special aids or assistive devices.
Make Workplace Accommodations
Avoid lifting, stooping and remaining in cramped or bent positions. Maintain good posture by adjusting the height of your desk or computer monitor. Some people find it helpful to alternate between standing and sitting and using a cushion to support a painful back. If possible, pace your activities and arrange to take short rest periods throughout the day.