Prognosis is the medical term for predicted outcome of a disease or disorder. When a disorder gets too close for comfort, knowing the prognosis is a top priority. That’s certainly the case when you or a loved one is diagnosed with a disorder that is characterized by discomfort. Although ankylosing spondylitis (AS) doesn’t yet have a cure, it can be managed effectively. Effective management translates into relief of symptoms and optimized independence.
It’s important to remember that AS is one of many types of arthritis. Arthritis is not curable, but it is definitely a manageable disease. Extensive progress has been made in developing new types of therapeutic agents that, with appropriate exercise, rest, and a healthy diet, relieve symptoms quite well.
What can a person with AS expect? Anticipate periodic flare-ups during which pain and stiffness worsen in the same or additional joints. That’s a cue to see one’s rheumatologist to revise medication. A dose modification or addition of another medication may be necessary, along with hot/cold compresses and modified exercise to ensure benefit versus harm to the affected joints. Stress-reducing activities such as gentle yoga, water therapy, meditation, and positive thinking can help prevent pessimism during a flare-up. Keep in mind that flare-ups resolve.
Robust research efforts are focused on biologic therapies that target specific gene pathways in the immune system. Innovative strategies to prevent inflammatory attacks are being tested in clinical trials. An AS sufferer is wise to keep an eye on treatment advances by using the ClinicalTrials.gov tool. It’s a good way to see what is being tested, and to find out if an interesting clinical trial is worth pursuing.
Just as a size 8 shoe won’t fit every foot, symptoms and response to medications differ for each person who has AS. The AS sufferer should thus learn as much as possible about AS and the array of treatment options that make AS a manageable chronic disorder. Remember that while AS can’t be cured, it can be effectively managed through individually tailored interventions. AS sufferers have the power to obtain and knowledge and take action to ensure optimal quality of life.
Judi Ebbert earned her PhD at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health. She has worked at three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers and is a writer/editor at Moffitt Cancer Center. Judi has great interest in chronic disease prevention and treatment, and is an advocate for equitable access to care and optimal quality of life for all people. She loves swimming, her dogs and cats, great food, art, humor, and cinematic thrillers. She’s on Twitter at Judi@judithebbert.