10 Ways to Ease Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain

1 / 11   10 Ways to Ease Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain

If you’re living with ankylosing spondylitis, you know the back pain and fatigue that are hallmarks of the condition can be unpredictable. But fortunately, there are many approaches — besides simply relying on medications — that you can take to ease spondylitis pain and stiffness and move more freely. Most of these ideas are free or inexpensive, and even enjoyable to boot. You’ll find that the emotional boost you get from taking these steps can be as great as the physical improvement. Here are 10 ways to get started.

2 / 11   Keep Moving

Your number one defense against spondylitis pain and stiffness is to get moving. Rest and couch-potato inactivity allow your joints to start fusing together, which is what you need to avoid with ankylosing spondylitis. Ruth Kadanoff, MD, professor of rheumatology at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, says, “The type of movement is not as important as the frequency. You need to be doing some type of exercise twice a day. The best exercise is a low-impact type of exercise like walking.” Make simple exercise a daily habit, just like brushing your teeth, and you’ll be well on your way to relieving lower back pain.

3 / 11   Make Mornings More Manageable

If you’re like most people with ankylosing spondylitis, your lower back pain and stiffness is worse in the morning. “When joints are stationary for a time, the joint fluid actually thickens a bit, like ketchup,” says Sturdy McKee, MPT, physical therapist and CEO of San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy. “You can shake or stir your joints through repeated movements — any repeated movements.” Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to create a morning routine of gentle motions that can lessen spondylitis pain and get your joints moving.

4 / 11   Correct Poor Posture

Poor posture ramps up spondylitis pain and stiffness. Minimize lower back pain with what medical experts call “posture training:” Think tall by keeping your head balanced and your back straight at all times, and practice standing with your back against a wall and prone lying, which is lying face down on a firm surface. A physical therapist can show you the ropes. “Posture training should be done for about 30 minutes every day, but you can break this time up into 10- or 15-minute sessions,” says Angelo Papachristos, a physiotherapist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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