Meeting AS Head On | Fight The Fuse

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Meeting AS Head On

The physical and emotional impact of Ankylosing Spondylitis along with the fears and anxieties surrounding it results in many doubts and questions. Here is a list of some frequently asked questions about Ankylosing Spondylitis:

Q. I am diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and I feel dejected. What do I do?

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a medical condition and it is important to understand that it does not define or limit you as a person.

Research has shown that people who take an active interest in their condition can influence how their disease plays out. Having the right information and initiating a frank conversation with your Rheumatologist is the first step towards living a happy, active and, productive life.[1]

Q. How can I deal with anxiety and stress?

Stress can act as a trigger to worsen symptoms. On the other hand, managing the effects of stress will improve your ability to manage Ankylosing Spondylitis better. Breathing exercises are a simple, yet effective stress management tool.[2]

Joining support groups are another great way to deal with a long-term condition like Ankylosing Spondylitis. They help bring together people who are going through similar situations and experiences.[3]

We present 5 things you can do to be 'emotionally well'.

Accept Yourself

Accept yourself
Acceptance is about changing the way you think or altering your ‘mindset’.[2]

Recognise signs

Recognize the signs
Observe negative feelings like hopelessness, anxiety, fear, or sadness.[2]

Learn to deal with stress

Learn to deal with stress and anxiety
Simple stress-busting techniques can work wonders.[2]

Prepare for difficult times

Prepare for difficult times
Be emotionally prepared for times when your symptoms flare or when you experience an increased stress.[2]

Ask for help

Ask for help
Social connections can be the key to remaining emotionally well.[2]

We also have a practical guide to help you deal with the
emotions associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Q. Is there a chance I can have a successful career, now that I have Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Many Ankylosing Spondylitis patients have successful careers. The key here is to be proactive[4]:

  • Take steps to maximize your comfort level while you work.
  • Use chairs and desks that are designed to help you maintain the right posture.
  • Take regular breaks and stretch often.
  • You may also want to sensitize your manager and co-workers about your condition so that they can support you when times get tough.
  • Be assertive about improving your work conditions and don’t be shy to ask for help.
Q. Can I get married if I have Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a long-term condition and can have an impact on different aspects of your life including your relationships, especially with your spouse. You will have to adapt to deal with the physical challenges of the condition like pain, fatigue as well as the emotions associated with it, like low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.

Discussing your condition with your to-be partner or spouse, especially when you are first diagnosed, is especially important. Talk about the challenges you may face, that could impact you as a couple. Frank and open communication can work wonders with any relationship.[1]

Be sure to involve your spouse in your treatment, get them to accompany you to the Rheumatologist, and make joint decisions related to your illness.[1] Talking to a Rheumatologist or a mental health professional about your concerns can help.

Q. Is there a chance I can pass on Ankylosing Spondylitis to my children?

Studies show that 8 out of 10 children who inherit the HLA-B27 gene do not develop Ankylosing Spondylitis.[5] While Ankylosing Spondylitis can be inherited, it is not a certainty that your child will have this condition.[1] [6] 

Dealing with Ankylosing Spondylitis is a continuous process. Learning to be 'emotionally well' will take you one step closer to 'Living AS Champions'.

Ask your Rheumatologist for biologics that slow down spinal fusion.

References

  1. Arthritis Ireland. Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://www.arthritisireland.ie/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=a60cb008-5014-422d-b3d1-c04405e6f1a9 Accessed on 17 April 2020

  2. NAAS. Your Wellbeing. Available [Online] at:https://nass.co.uk/about-as/what-is-as/your-wellbeing/ Accessed on 22 March 2021

  3. ASIF. World AS day 2020. Toolkit. Available [Online] at: https://asif.info/worldasdayresources/toolkit.pdf Accessed on 17 May 2021

  4. WebMD. Ankylosing Spondylitis and your job. Available [Online] at: https://www.webmd.com/ankylosing-spondylitis/guide/ankylosing-spondylitis-and-work Accessed on 17th May 21

  5. NIH. Medline Plus. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://medlineplus.gov/download/genetics/condition/ankylosing-spondylitis.pdf Accessed on 17th May 2021

  6. NHS. Causes. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ankylosing-spondylitis/causes/ Accessed on 8 March 2021

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