If you have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, the self care advice that is outlined below may prove useful.
- Make sure that you take the medicines that have been prescribed for you.
- Make sure you do the stretches and exercises that your physiotherapist (a healthcare professional who is trained in using physical methods of treatment) recommends for you.
- Make sure that you maintain a good posture when you are sitting and sleeping (see the video, left).
- Do not smoke. As well as having a negative impact on your overall health, smoking is particularly risky for people with ankylosing spondylitis as it increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (conditions that affect the heart and blood flow, such as heart attacks).
- Using hot or cold packs may help to relieve back and joint pain.
If you have ankylosing spondylitis, you may also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases include:
- heart disease – your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart)
- stroke – a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – where blood clots develop in one of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs
Your rheumatologist (specialist in treating muscle and joint conditions) will be able to advise you about any lifestyle changes you should make to minimise your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. These changes may include:
- giving up smoking (if you smoke)
- losing weight (if you are overweight or obese)
- taking more regular exercise
- keeping any other conditions that you may have under control, such as diabetes (a long-term condition caused by too much glucose in the blood) or high blood pressure (hypertension)