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Pain management for ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

Most people will experience a flare-up at some time, when the joints become more painful and stiff. You may also feel tired and generally unwell. Over time, you’ll probably find treatments that prevent or limit the flare-ups you experience. You’ll also become better at coping with them if and when they occur. Talking with other people who have ankylosing spondylitis can be a good way of picking up tips for coping with flare-ups.

Additional pain relief and anti-inflammatories will help with pain relief, as should short-term rest and gentle stretches. Massage may be useful too.

Hot and cold treatments can be useful for pain relief. Try using a hot-water bottle or wheat pack. Cold packs (for example a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a damp cloth may also help if applied to a particularly inflamed area.

Some people find that using a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine can help to ease pain. A TENS machine is a small electronic device that sends pulses to your nerve endings via pads placed on your skin. It produces a tingling sensation and is thought to alter pain messages sent to the brain. TENS machines are available from pharmacies and other major stores, but a physiotherapist may be able to loan you one to try, or suggest where you might be able to hire one, before you decide whether to buy.

Read more about pain and arthritis.


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