As a first line treatment, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain. Occasionally corticosteroids may be prescribed for short-term use to suppress unwanted inflammation. Sometimes more potent drugs such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine may be prescribed if you do not respond well to NSAIDs or are dependent on high dose steroids.
Newer drugs called TNF blockers which block inflammatory proteins, have been shown to be highly effective in treating arthritis of the joints as well as spinal arthritis. This group of medication include Enbrel®, Remicade® and Humira®.
Surgery may very occasionally be needed if joint damage is severe and there are signifi cant secondary degenerative changes.
Importance of Exercise
Exercise plays a very important role in helping to improve posture by reducing stiffness and pain. Most patients will benefit from a daily home exercise regime as recommended by a physiotherapist. Excessive inactivity can certainly increase the risk for spinal fusion. However, bear in mind that if you have Ankylosing Spondylitis, you should avoid high impact sports and heavy weight bearing exercises due to the increased risk of spinal fracture.
The symptoms of spondyloarthritis may either worsen, stabilise at any stage of the disease, or go into remission. The course of the disease is thus unpredictable.
Symptoms may come and go at any time. However, unless there is a major flare, most people are able to carry out activities of daily living normally if the disease remains under control.
In more extreme or long-term cases, damage of the joints and bones can lead to fusion of the joints in the spine or other areas, which can subsequently affect walking and function. As spondyloarthrits is a chronic disease, long-term follow up by a doctor is recommended.
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