Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS): An inflammatory arthritic condition that typically affects the spine and back. The joints and ligaments become inflamed which results in pain and stiffness. It usually starts in the lower back or behind, reaching towards the upper spine, chest and neck. Often times, and over a period of time, the vertebrae can fuse together resulting in rigidity and inflexibility in the spine—hips, knees and shoulders may also become affected.
Approximately 500,000 people in the U. S. are affected by Ankylosing Spondylitis including 300 American kids and teens. Sadly, this condition does not just cause physical disability, but the social isolation can be devastating for these children. The inability to run, play and participate in typical childhood activities becomes minimal or even non-existent due to the physical daily pain they endure. Although, treatments can vary in their effectiveness either through surgeries or a medication regimen, arthritis.org suggests that ‘self care’ can play a key component in better managing this disease.
Engage in Physical Activity—the goal is to keep the neck and back from stiffening up due to lack of movement and exercise. Engaging in yoga where the emphasis is in performing deep breathing exercises , it will help to keep the rib cage and chest flexible. In addition, swimming is an excellent option as it keeps the spine, neck, shoulders and hips flexible.  It is also recommended to include an overall strengthening program and some type of aerobic exercise to improve ones’ overall physical capability and function.
Maintain Good Posture—because AS fosters the fusing of the vertebrae, maintaining good body posture can help to prevent these joints from doing just that. Properly aligning your body is vital to creating less stress on the back as the joints in the lower back will be stressed by incorrect posture; good posture is essential to helping to avoid further pain from AS.
Use Self-Help Devices—the physical toll that AS can take on a child can be quite devastating. Hence, the importance of supplying the best self-help aids for them to utilize. Of course, the more independent they feel, the better their sense of well-being. Because of the difficulty in moving around or the ability to rise from a sitting or lying down position, using a lifting device can take away unnecessary stress and pain; getting dressed, bathing and toileting can also present its own challenges. Implementing helpful tools for typical daily living activities can provide more independence and overall comfort.
© Copyright 2018 The Wright Stuff, Inc. Articles may only be redistributed in its unedited form. Written permission from The Wright Stuff, Inc. must be obtained to reprint or cite the information contained within this article.