Medications to Treat Ankylosing Spondylitis

4 different medications and how one or more may help you manage your ankylosing spondylitis pain and symptoms

Written by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD

Medications may help reduce and manage the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), so they will likely have a place in your treatment plan. Though medicine cannot cure your AS, it may reduce your pain and enable you to more fully participate in the activities you enjoy.

This article describes the following types of drugs and biologics you may be prescribed to manage your ankylosing spondylitis-related back and joint pain:

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation, and are the most common type of drug therapy for AS. This class of medication is often part of the first line of treatment for the disease.

Corticosteroids
Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid if the NSAID you’re taking isn’t providing enough relief of your inflammation.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs control inflammation, and may help stop or slow the progression of AS.

Biologics (TNF-blocking Agents)
Biologics are a newer generation of DMARDs and may be used if traditional DMARDs don’t reduce symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. These genetically engineered drugs block the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) protein to reduce inflammation.

Medications and Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment Plan
With many medications available to help you manage your ankylosing spondylitis (AS) symptoms, your doctor will develop the appropriate regimen for you. Make sure you talk to your doctor about all medicines you take—even over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements—so he or she can create a plan that safely and effectively addresses your AS symptoms and pain. Once you’ve been prescribed medication, take it exactly as prescribed (even when/if you’re feeling well). Also, talk to your doctor if symptoms aren’t going away or new ones have emerged.

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