Dealing With Ankylosing Spondylitis Flareups

Having a flare-up of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) can be a real nuisance, especially as it goes on for many days. In this post I’m going to go through what I’ve found helps with flare-ups. Note this only comes from personal experience so your mileage may vary. In addition, I am not a doctor or physiotherapist of any kind so am not going to advise medication or stretches but rather just some additional things I’ve found to help.

Get a walking frame

Also commonly known as a zimmer frame, a walking frame can make it easier to get about if experiencing strong leg/hip pain. Previously I was finding myself holding onto door frames to assist with walking and sometimes, if not near a door frame, I’d find myself freezing in-place due to the anticipation of pain when walking.

After purchasing a walking frame I can now get about easier and don’t get frozen on my way to the kitchen at night. Even just using it to help with standing after waking up helps as I can support my weight using my arms to allow me to slowly move my legs with less pain until things loosen up.

You may have to get over feeling like an OAP but the assistance it provides is well worth it. This is the frame I use, The two levels of handles are useful when moving from a sitting position.

Give yourself extra time

If you’re like me then a bad flare-up can mean it takes a good while to get out of bed. I can find myself spending a good 10 minutes building up movement until I can roll out of bed.

When flaring-up be sure to leave extra time to account for getting moving and be patient with yourself. Trying to rush and force yourself through the pain is only going to stress you out further which will only make things worse. Chill out and focus on building up movement rather than panicking.

Get boring house-work done

When at home I find myself sitting down most of the time. Ideally during a flare-up you want to be moving every so often to stay loose. As a way to force myself to move about I’ll ensure to take a break every hour or so to do some household chores. Washing the dishes, ironing some shirts or hoovering up all keep you on your feet without being too physically demanding.

As a bonus, Once your flare-up is over you’ll be ahead of the game in housework leaving you to do other, more fun activities.

TV squats

Now I know I said I was not going to advise on stretches but I’ve found that squats are a great way to loosen up and are great overall for fitness. While watching TV get up and gently do a few squats every time adverts appear (Or about every 15 minutes if no adverts).

Take a shower

I find a good, warm shower can really ease some pains. I’m not too sure on any health benefits of the shower itself but just the time spent standing and moving a bit while your mind drifts off can really help.

Drink more

Drinking a good amount of water is supposed to bring a whole load of health benefits but I’ve found it’s also a good way to force yourself to move every once in a while. As you drink more you’ll find you’ll need to pop to the loo more often thus forcing you to get up for a quick walk and stretch.

Get a decent chair

I think a good, well supporting chair always helps no matter what your health is like but I think it’s especially important with AS. Personally I can get a good deal of pain in the bottom of the pelvis, usually on a single side at a time. A chair with a good base seat that distributes the load over a larger surface area has helped reduce pressure where I’d feel pain.

I got myself a couple of Herman Miller Aeron chairs for both home and work. This chair has a suspended mesh base seat with mechanical suspension and I’ve found this to be a good improvement when seated for many hours at a time. Not saying you have to get an Aeron but it’s worth paying a bit more for a good chair so that you can remain comfortable.