COPING WITH YOUR SYMPTOMS
Top tips for living well with AS
Cut down or quit smoking
Smoking isn’t good for anyone, but if you have AS, it can be particularly bad for you as there is clear evidence that smoking worsens AS. The best thing you can do for your health is stop smoking, or at the very least cut down. Ask your healthcare team to direct you to the local services to help you quit. For more information on smoking click here.
Get a good night’s sleep
Pain in your joints can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Try some of these tips to help:
- Choose a supportive, comfortable bed — a medium-to-firm mattress usually offers the best support
- Use as few pillows as possible to keep your neck in a neutral position
- Stick to a ‘bedtime routine’ — for example, drink a soothing herbal tea and steer clear of electronic devices for half an hour before bed
Use heat to help soothe pain
If you feel stiff or in pain at night or first thing in the morning, taking a hot bath or shower can help ease your symptoms. Alternatively, you can use heating pads such as hot water bottles, cherry stone bags, wheat bags or electric blankets to help.
Keeping active can help you to manage your AS better. Don’t overdo it, but try to do some exercise to keep muscles and joints moving every day.
Poppy’s advice: Go swimming to stay active
Swimming is a great way to exercise with AS and improve your well-being. Due to the low impact on your joints it is possible to swim regularly without suffering any additional pain during the following days. Regular exercise is not only important for your physical well-being, but also your mental health, providing a sense of accomplishment and control.
Eat well and try to maintain a healthy weight
Your diet and weight can play a big part in helping you to feel better. Try to maintain a healthy weight, as being overweight puts additional strain on your back and joints. Include enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet to help keep bones healthy and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Paul’s advice: Try new things to find out what works for you
AS can be quite a personal experience: successful advice for one person may not be the right advice for you. It is therefore important to try lots of different exercises and management techniques to discover your personal strategy. Consider trying: