There’s no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that causes fusing in the vertebrae of the spine. The symptoms will have an adverse impact on quality of life, as can be expected considering that the spine is the body’s backbone. The good news is that there are available treatments for the disease, which can lessen the severity of the symptoms, even delay its progression.
Medical Treatment a Must
Emphasis must first be made that self-treatment especially self-medication shouldn’t be performed with ankylosing spondylitis due to its severity. You and your doctor, as well as your family, have to work together in finding the best possible disease management plan in your case.
Furthermore, the earlier your condition is diagnosed, the more effective your plan can be. Setting realistic expectations about the efficacy of the treatment options discussed below is also a must. Keep in mind that your treatment goals are the relief of your symptoms, particularly pain and stiffness, and the delay of its complications including spinal deformity.
Medications Currently Available
Your doctor will formulate a personalized disease management plan according to various factors. These include your age, gender and physical condition as well as your medical history and current progress. Your medications may include a few or several of the following medications:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Celebrex, are the most common medications used. These provide relief from the inflammation, stiffness and pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis. But these may also cause gastrointestinal bleeding so close medical supervision is a must.
- Biologic medications are prescribed when NSAIDs aren’t effective. These include a tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which interferes with the action of inflammation-causing cell proteins, and an interleukin 17 (IL-17) inhibitor.
The TNF blockers are administered via injections either under the skin or via an intravenous line. The Food and Drug Administration has approved only five of these blockers for use in the management of ankylosing spondylitis.
But both of these medications should be used cautiously since these can increase the risk of infection and reactivate dormant tuberculosis.
These medications aren’t just the only treatment options for ankylosing spondylitis. Your doctor will also recommend physical therapy for improved strength and flexibility. You should be able to enjoy significant pain relief, too, from the stretching and range of motion exercises.
Over time, your symptoms can worsen because there’s no cure yet for the inflammatory disease. But with a combination of medications, physical therapy and healthy lifestyle habits, you can still enjoy a good life.