How Ankylosing Spondylitis Is Treated Lifestyle Changes, Physical Therapy, NSAIDs, and More

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) Therapy

The mainstay treatment for ankylosing spondylitis is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) therapy. NSAIDs have been around a long time and are very effective at reducing inflammation in the body. They work by blocking enzymes called cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX enzymes).

By blocking these enzymes, prostaglandin levels are reduced in the body. Since prostaglandins play a key role in inflammation, by reducing them, symptoms of inflammation like pain and swelling are minimized. However, NSAIDs aren’t a viable treatment for all.

NSAIDs cannot be taken by everyone due to their potential for harm. It’s important to only take an NSAID under the guidance of your doctor.

For instance, one well-known potential harm of NSAID therapy is that it may cause stomach damage, ulcers, and bleeding. NSAIDs can also increase your risk of heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. They may also raise a person’s blood pressure and cause or worsen kidney problems.

In addition to these potential harms, NSAIDs may interact with your other medications. This is why it is important to tell and ask your doctor about all of the medications you are taking, including herbals, vitamins, or supplements.

There are a number of different NSAIDs available to treat AS, including both over-the-counter NSAIDs and prescription NSAIDs. Examples include:1

  • over-the-counter NSAIDs: Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen)
  • prescription NSAIDs: Voltaren (diclofenac), Mobic (meloxicam), or Indocin (indomethacin)

Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen are also available by prescription at a higher strength. Another type of NSAID commonly prescribed to treat AS is Celebrex (celecoxib), which is designed to limit stomach and intestinal problems.

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