There are numerous treatments for ankylosing spondylitis. Doctors may recommend medication, physical therapy, and home remedies. In severe cases, surgery may be an option.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory condition. A person’s doctor will work with them to create a treatment plan, which might include a combination of different treatment types.

This article discusses the various treatment options available for ankylosing spondylitis, including medications, physical therapy, surgery, and home remedies.

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Although there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, doctors prescribe medications to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the condition.

The most common type of medication for pain and stiffness are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

If a person does not experience adequate relief with NSAIDs, a doctor may recommend other medications. These can include:

  • disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as sulfasalazine
  • immunosuppressive medications, such as methotrexate
  • corticosteroids
  • biologics such as TNF-α inhibitors and IL-17 inhibitors
  • janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, such as upadacitinib (Rinvoq) and tofacitinib (Xejanz)

A person’s doctor will be able to recommend specific medications and explain how they may help.

Physical therapy may play a role in the management of ankylosing spondylitis.

In a 2022 systematic review of 12 studies, researchers found evidence to suggest that those who received supervised physical therapy at either a facility or a home-based program showed improvement in symptoms compared with those who received only medical intervention for ankylosing spondylitis.

While these results may suggest that physical therapy is an important part of treatment, the review also noted that the degree of bias was likely between medium and high. They also state that additional studies are necessary to fully understand how significant the effects of physical therapy are on the condition.

Still, doctors will likely recommend that a person receive physical therapy or get regular physical activity. Physical therapy may help with:

  • reducing pain
  • improving posture and mobility
  • strengthening muscles in the back, neck, and abdomen
  • retaining flexibility in the joints

Not everyone with ankylosing spondylitis will require surgery.

A doctor may recommend surgery if the condition affects a person’s daily life and activities or if they have severe joint damage. Surgery may help replace or fix damaged joints.

Learn more about ankylosing spondylitis and surgery.

Various home remedies may help a person to manage ankylosing spondylitis.

Although everyone responds differently to different approaches, some tips for managing ankylosing spondylitis at home include:

  • getting enough regular physical activity or exercise
  • keeping an eye on symptoms and recording changes when they occur
  • practicing good posture
  • using supportive or assistive devices
  • eating a nutritious diet
  • managing stress
  • avoiding cigarette smoking

A person’s doctor can provide them with more information on ways they can manage ankylosing spondylitis at home.

Learn more about natural treatment options for ankylosing spondylitis.

If a person feels that their symptoms are getting worse or they develop new symptoms, it is best that they contact a doctor. It may be a sign that the condition is progressing, a side effect of medication, or due to another cause.

The doctor will be able to assess the symptoms and advise on treatment modifications.

Here are some more frequently asked questions about ankylosing spondylitis.

Which treatment is best for ankylosing spondylitis?

There is no single “best” treatment for ankylosing spondylitis. A person may need to work with several healthcare professionals to find the best treatment options for them. Commonly, a doctor will recommend or prescribe NSAIDs, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to help manage the condition.

What should you not do with ankylosing spondylitis?

It is best for a person with ankylosing spondylitis to avoid smoking. Smoking can worsen symptoms.

When exercising, it is generally advisable to avoid high impact exercises. Instead, a person may choose low impact exercises that help improve cardiovascular fitness and strength.

What are the triggers for ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis triggers can vary from person to person. Several people report worsening symptoms during periods of long inactivity, such as overnight. Exercise or physical activity can help improve symptoms associated with rest.

What is the life expectancy of someone with ankylosing spondylitis?

Unless a person experiences severe symptoms or complications, someone living with ankylosing spondylitis will generally have the same life expectancy as the general population. Managing ankylosing spondylitis can help reduce the risk of developing complications.

Treatments for ankylosing spondylitis include a combination of medications, physical therapy, and home remedies. In severe cases, a person may need surgery to replace or fix a damaged joint.

Treatments can vary among individuals, and what works for one person may not work as well for another. It is best for a person to discuss their treatment options with a doctor.