3 smart moves to manage Ankylosing Spondylitis better | Fight The Fuse

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3 smart moves to manage Ankylosing Spondylitis better 

Exercise, Posture management, and behavioral changes

If you are living with Ankylosing Spondylitis, you know the impact pain, stiffness and lack of mobility have on your life. While medication helps, there is a whole lot you can do beyond it to cope better and lead a relatively stable life with this condition.[1]

Imagine a plane cruising the runway. It needs four stable wheels for a smooth cruise. Ankylosing Spondylitis is much the same. Medication can relieve symptoms and provide one stable wheel. But three other wheels which are also needed for stable management of the condition are  - exercise, posture management and behavioral changes.[1]

Find out how these active interventions can help you manage Ankylosing Spondylitis better.

Exercise

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a condition where continuous activity provides relief, while resting can worsen the symptoms.[2] Due to this unique characteristic, exercise becomes an inseparable part of managing the condition. Exercises are beneficial to reduce symptoms like stiffness, discomfort and improve strength, flexibility, range of motion, and endurance.[1] [3]

You can consider five categories of exercises for Ankylosing Spondylitis – Breathing, Cardiovascular, Flexibility, Mobility, and Strengthening.[3]

Importantly, consult your Rheumatologist or a Physiotherapist to know the best exercise schedule for you.[1]

Posture management

Being aware of the correct body posture while standing, sitting, sleeping, lifting, pulling, pushing, exercising, and even during leisure activities is important to keep joints and bones in proper alignment. An incorrect posture can lead to worsening of symptoms and in turn affect daily living.[1] [4]

Posture management involves learning the right posture through pictures or demonstrations. Some exercises, like Yoga or Tai Chi, can also be used to train the body to maintain the right postures. Ask your Rheumatologist or Physiotherapist about the right postures for each task.[1]

Behavioral changes

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as a negative sensory and emotional experience. It recognizes that the symptoms like pain come with a response to escape it, resulting in people becoming sedentary. A response like this can worsen pain and other symptoms in conditions like Ankylosing Spondylitis.[1]

Addressing such behavioral patterns by learning techniques to calm the naturally occurring distress caused by pain is important.[1] You can try out strategies like maintaining daily routines, healthy eating techniques, stress-reducing exercises, and getting involved in distracting activities as these have been known to influence pain and symptom-related negative behavior.[1]

Your Rheumatologist or pain specialist can help address any challenges and overcome them.

The analogy of the plane with four stable wheels is relevant to understand the holistic approach needed for the management of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

The addition of these three smart moves to the right therapy is the key to living better with it.[1]

Ask your Rheumatologist for biologics that slow down spinal fusion.

References

  1. Tackling Chronic Pain. Spondylitis.org. Available [Online] at: https://spondylitis.org/spondylitis-plus/tackling-chronic-pain/ Accessed on 7th Jan 2021

  2. Sieper J, et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2002;61(Suppl III):iii8–iii18

  3. Back to Action. NAAS. Available [Online] at: https://nass.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Back-to-Action-low-resolution-version.pdf Accessed on 7 May 2019

  4. Ankylosing Spondylitis: 6 Tips to Improve Your Posture, From Morning to Night. Everyday health.  Available [Online] at: https://www.everydayhealth. com/hs/ankylosing-spondylitis-treatment-management/tips-improveposture-morning-night/ Accessed on 17 April 2020

Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice from your Rheumatologist/Physiotherapist before undertaking any physical activity.