Managing Ankylosing Spondylitis

You don’t have to settle for just ‘OK’. Understanding AS and knowing what you can do for yourself may help contribute to successful management of the condition.

Why managing AS is important.

If you’re diagnosed with AS, it is important to develop a plan to manage the condition well.1 AS can be managed, with a combination of treatment and specific exercises to relieve pain, maintain mobility and a correct posture, so that you can continue to do your normal daily activities.1

When diagnosed early and managed appropriately, most people with AS keep working, remain active, and lead full lives with sport, recreation and family.1

Speak to your rheumatologist and discover how to better manage your AS.

Hear about Matt’s diagnosis journey.

“I was living with AS for almost a decade before I received my diagnosis, and now I am able to jump out of bed if I want to. Since receiving my diagnosis and beginning my management plan for AS the impact it’s had on my life has just been so drastic and such a positive change for me.”


*Patient experience is unique to the individual. For further information please talk to your doctor. Information is intended for Australian residents only and is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare professional.

Hear about Matt's diagnosis journey. “I was living with AS for almost a decade before I received my diagnosis, and now I am able to jump out of bed if I want to. Since receiving my diagnosis and beginning my management plan for AS the impact it’s had on my life has just been so drastic and such a positive change for me.”

Treatment options for Ankylosing Spondylitis

A holistic approach is key in managing ankylosing spondylitis. A rheumatologist and team of health professionals can provide you with advice, support and treatment. However, you remain important as the centre of your healthcare team.

Your rheumatologist will tailor your treatment to your symptoms and the severity of your condition.2 A range of effective treatments and therapies are available for AS and can each work differently depending on the person to ultimately help manage the daily challenges caused by AS.

There is no way of predicting which treatment will work best for you, so you may need to trial several different treatments before finding one that’s suitable.2 Each treatment has its own risks and benefits that your doctor will discuss with you.

Treatment for AS usually involves:

  • physiotherapy exercises (such as hydrotherapy or exercises in water), to keep the spine flexible and improve posture2
  • medicines, such as:2,3
Short-acting medicines AS-specific medicines
Analgesics (pain-relieving medicines) – for temporary pain relief. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – to control your overactive immune system.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – to help control inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. Biologic medicines – biological disease-modifying drugs that work to control your immune system, but in a much more targeted way.
Corticosteroid medicines or injections – to quickly control or reduce inflammation


Remember to consider other forms of therapy outside of prescription and over-the-counter medicines to help manage your AS e.g., physiotherapy, counselling, acupuncture, exercise, and tell your rheumatologist if you are using other substances e.g., alcohol.

A psychologist or counsellor may be beneficial to help you adjust to your diagnosis. Stress can have a significant effect on your condition by causing symptom flare-ups.1 A psychologist or counsellor can help you manage stress, motivate you to exercise and guide and help you to self-manage your condition.1 Read more about managing your mental wellbeing below.

An occupational therapist (OT) may visit your home or work. They can provide advice on how to carry out activities at home, work and when you’re out and about, in ways that reduce strain and pain for your back.4

A pharmacist can give you information about your medicines, side effects and interactions as well as helping you to manage your medicines (e.g., checking dosages and managing repeats).4

Evaluating your current AS management plan

Your needs will vary over time. Regular visits to your doctor to evaluate your management plan are important to work towards ensuring your condition is under control and that the best medicines are being used safely and appropriately.

It’s important you tell your doctor if your current management plan is helping you, as well as telling them about any concerns you might have about your treatment(s), or quality of life. Also, be sure to share if you’ve experienced side-effects or if you’ve had a hard time adhering to your treatment regimen.

Regular reviews by your physiotherapist are also important to ensure that your exercise program is the best for you at that time, and that deterioration in your mobility is prevented or minimised.

Your GP is the best person to help you coordinate your care. They can assess if you are eligible for a Care Plan, which means you can access several physiotherapy or other allied health treatments with the support of Medicare.

For support in having clear and honest conversations with your rheumatologist and healthcare team, download the Back Yourself Conversation Guide.

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Managing AS

Ankylosis spondylitis exercises

Staying physically active is one of the best ways to help manage AS symptoms like pain and stiffness. Read more about the benefits of exercises for AS and how to choose the right exercises for you.

Managing flare-ups

When you’re living with AS, symptom flare-ups can sometimes occur. To help minimise the impact they have on your life, it’s important to learn how to help manage them. Read more about​ managing AS flare-ups.

Managing your mental wellbeing

Even if AS isn’t causing you physical pain, it can still affect your emotional health. Research shows that people living with AS are at greater risk of experiencing depression and anxiety.5  Read more about ​managing your mental wellbeing.

Anti-inflammatory diet for AS

While there is no one diet that can treat or cure AS, the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet may reduce inflammation in the body, which may help with symptoms of AS.6
Read more about an ​anti-inflammatory diet for AS. Before starting a new diet, first, speak with your doctor or healthcare team to determine if it is safe and appropriate for you.

​​Resources For Managing AS

Our library of resources provides information on ​​Exercises for AS, ​​Living with AS and ​​Support for AS. Also, read about other people’s lived experience with AS on our ​Real Stories page.

This information is general information for people with AS and may not suit all individuals. It does not take your own circumstances into consideration. Your rheumatologist and healthcare team are best to advise you on what is suitable for you, depending on the severity of your condition and your management plan.


  1. Ankylosing Spondylitis Australia. About Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available at:
  2. Arthritis New South Wales. Ankylosing spondylitis. Available at:
  3. Better Health Channel. Ankylosing spondylitis. Available at:
  4. Arthritis Australia. Taking control of your ankylosing spondylitis. Available at:
  5. Park JY, et al. BMC Rheumatol. 2020;4:12.
  6. MySpondylitisTeam. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Spondylitis. Available at:
Managing AS

Ready to take control of AS?

Your rheumatologist and healthcare team are your best allies in taking control of AS. It doesn’t matter whether it’s been one or many years since your diagnosis with AS, it’s never too late.

If you think AS is holding you back or impacting your life, it’s time to talk to your rheumatologist about your goals and how you’re managing. Don’t let AS hold you back, take control.

Download the guide to help you make the most out of your conversations with your doctors.

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