Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory condition that mainly affects the spine. The condition usually requires medical treatments, but some home remedies can also reduce symptoms.

AS is a type of arthritis affecting the spine. It causes symptoms that include lower back pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. People with AS experience symptoms that gradually worsen over time.

While medical treatments may be necessary, there are also many home remedies for managing AS symptoms and improving quality of life.

This article discusses some of these home remedies.

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Regular exercise is an important self-care practice for managing AS. It can help someone with:

  • maintaining flexibility and strength
  • reducing pain
  • improving posture

Swimming is a good form of aerobic exercise that is low intensity for the joints. Stretches can help with mobility and flexibility.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice when beginning a new exercise regime. They can advise on which exercises are best for managing symptoms of AS and how frequently a person should aim to perform them.

Learn more about exercising with AS.

Maintaining good posture can help reduce the risk of postural complications of AS, such as curvature of the spine.

Poor posture can also lead to stiffness, weakness, and pain in the muscles and joints.

There are various exercises that can help improve posture in people with AS, typically targeting the back and abdominal muscles. Being more aware of their posture throughout the day, particularly when sitting, can help people with AS avoid poor posture.

A doctor may also refer a person to a physical therapist for more advice on maintaining a good posture with AS.

Having AS may affect sleep quality. Poor sleep can also worsen pain and fatigue in people with AS. Some people may also experience complications from poor sleep, including depression.

People with AS may need to take steps to support sleep management, including contacting a doctor about ongoing sleep issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends tips for better sleep, including:

  • being consistent with timing going to sleep and waking up
  • making sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and relaxing where possible
  • removing electronic devices from the bedroom, including mobile phones and televisions
  • avoiding large meals before bed
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • getting enough regular physical activity such as exercising throughout the day

Learn more about sleeping with AS.

While there is no specific diet for AS, a healthful diet may help a person manage AS symptoms.

The Spondylitis Association of America recommends some dietary guidelines for people with AS that include:

  • eating a varied and balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables
  • eating foods high in calcium and omega-3 fatty acids
  • avoiding highly processed foods
  • limiting salt, alcohol, and high saturated fat intake
  • drinking 8–10 glasses of water per day
  • meeting the daily recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals

Learn more about foods to eat and avoid with AS.

Stress and other aspects of well-being can contribute to AS symptoms.

The Spondylitis Association of America highlights that stress can alter the nervous system and affect how it and other organ systems work.

Preventing stress may help to reduce the physical tension that could worsen symptoms of AS.

Some tips for dealing with stress include:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • stretching and meditating
  • getting enough physical activity such as exercising
  • getting plenty of sleep
  • avoiding excess alcohol, tobacco, or substance use
  • making time to relax daily
  • spending time with loved ones

The Arthritis Foundation states that smoking worsens the damage that AS does to the body.

They recommend quitting smoking for people who currently smoke. This may help reduce the severity of the condition and improve quality of life.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice if they are thinking about quitting smoking.

Home remedies are helpful for AS symptoms and improving quality of life. However, most people with AS require medical treatments such as medications and physical therapy.

Medical treatments are typically necessary to help relieve symptoms, improve posture, and slow the progression of the condition.

Here are some frequently asked questions about ankylosing spondylitis.

What should you not do with ankylosing spondylitis?

If a person has AS, it is best to avoid contact sports or activities that can strain the back or joints, such as heavy lifting without proper technique.

A person with a fused spine or advanced ankylosing spondylitis should also avoid manipulation of the spine or chiropractic care. It is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice before considering seeing a chiropractor.

What helps ankylosing spondylitis flare up?

People with AS typically take medications to help manage a flare-up of symptoms. These can include anti-inflammatory, biologic, or corticosteroid medications to help reduce pain and inflammation. Other techniques, such as gentle exercises and stress management, may also help reduce pain.

What is the best lifestyle for ankylosing spondylitis?

It is best for a person with AS to:

  • maintain a moderate weight
  • consume a healthful diet
  • maintain a good posture
  • avoid smoking
  • avoid excess alcohol and substance use
  • get enough regular exercise or physical activity
  • get enough quality sleep
  • manage stress

Medical treatments are typically necessary for managing AS. However, home remedies can also help people reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Home remedies can include eating a healthful diet, maintaining good posture, getting enough regular physical activity, such as exercising, and avoiding smoking.

Most people will still require medications and physical therapy for AS. These treatments can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups, and help with long-term management of the condition.