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Managing ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis affecting the joints of the spine. It is characterized by pain and stiffness of the neck down the lower back. The bones of the spine or vertebrae fuse together and result to a stiff spine. This can be mild or severe and cause a stooped –over posture. Early treatment of the condition may reduce the possibility of deformity. Men are more susceptible to this condition in the early teens and 20s and less common and milder in women.

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back.
  • Spinal fusion
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
    ankylosing-spondylitis

    Apply ice pack or cold gel pack on the painful joints for at least 20 minutes at a time after performing exercises to lessen the inflammation.

  • Red and watery eyes
  • Bowel or stomach problems
  • General unwell feeling
  • Reduced lung capacity

Treatment

  • Apply hot water bottle or a heating pad to the affected area to lessen the stiffness and the pain. Another alternative is using a moist or dry heat. Taking a warm bath especially before performing exercises. Avoid using heat therapy if suffering from underlying conditions such as diabetes, vascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, open wound or skin condition such as dermatitis.
  • Stretch the affected area by performing spine stretch or the low-back rotation stretch together with the regular exercises to make the area more flexible and lessen the pain.
  • Apply ice pack or cold gel pack on the painful joints for at least 20 minutes at a time after performing exercises to lessen the inflammation. Another alternative is using a bag of frozen vegetable such as peas or corn is good for the condition. Avoid using cold therapy if suffering from problems with circulation.
  • Massage the affected area to relax the muscles, make it more flexible or “loose” when performing exercises or stretching.
  • Perform stretching regularly to prevent making the affected area becoming stiff. Gentle exercise program such as yoga and swimming which is good for the joints and strengthening exercises using weights to make muscles strong which can support the joints affected by ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Perform aerobic exercises to promote expansion of the breathing muscles and open the air passages of the lungs which is good for the condition.
  • Stop smoking to lessen the symptoms of the condition.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication and aspirin to lessen the pain and the stiffness of the spine and other joints.

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