What if I have Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The course of AS is very variable. If your AS is diagnosed early and treated appropriately, you will generally do well.
How your disease progresses over the first 10 years usually gives a guide to how you are likely to do in future years.
If you are diagnosed with AS, it is important to develop a plan to manage the condition successfully. AS can be managed with a combination of medicines and specific exercises to relieve pain, maintain mobility and a correct posture, so that you can continue to do your normal daily activities.
Your GP should send you to a rheumatologist to confirm an accurate diagnosis. The rheumatologist can discuss treatment options such as regular exercise and the use of medicines.
A referral to a physiotherapist with some knowledge of AS is important to help you get the best information about ways to help you manage your pain, your daily activities, posture, sport and recreation. Exercise is essential to the successful management of AS, and a physio can tailor an exercise program to your specific needs, especially including stretching and flexibility exercises and postural strengthening. They can help with mobilisation techniques and other physical and electrical techniques if required.
Hydrotherapy – exercises in the water – is extremely helpful for people with AS. The water gives a greater freedom of movement and helps relieve pain, hence enabling more movement with greater ease. ‘less pain – more gain!’
A psychologist may be helpful to help you and your family to adjust to your diagnosis. Stress has a significant effect on flare-ups of your condition and hence how much pain and disability you feel. Psychologists can help you manage stress, motivate you to exercise and guide and help you to self manage your condition.
Healthcare professionals can provide advice, support and treatment. You are important, as the centre of a health team. Your condition needs to be monitored and reviewed. It is important to keep in contact with your medical support team. Regular visits to your rheumatologist are important to ensure that your disease is under control and that the best medicines are being used safely and appropriately. Regular reviews by your physiotherapist are important to ensure that your exercise program is the best for you at that time, and that deterioration in your mobility is prevented or minimised.
Your needs will vary over time and your healthcare professionals are the best people to assist you to improve your quality of life. Your GP can help you coordinate your care. He/she can assess if you are eligible for a ‘care plan’, which means you can access several physio or other allied health treatments under Medicare.
Most people with AS keep active, keep working and live full lives with sport, recreation and family.
Understanding the disease, and knowing what you can do for yourself, will contribute to successful management of the condition.
Support groups are a valuable resource – providing support, information and social interaction.
Last Updated (Friday, 24 September 2010 16:34)