N early half a million Americans are living with ankylosing spondylitis, according to the Arthritis Foundation, but there’s a lack of awareness about the condition. That’s why Don Markham, a My Take Ankylosing Spondylitis contributor, wishes more people — and doctors — understood what the condition actually is. “I wish doctors were more educated about the disease,” he says. “That’s one thing I can’t stress enough.”
One reason that ankylosing spondylitis is so misunderstood is that its symptoms — including back pain, stiffness, and fatigue — are often invisible. But these symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s life. “You have no idea that I have ankylosing spondylitis,” says Gail Wright, another My Take Ankylosing Spondylitis contributor, “But it’s affecting every moment of every day of my life.”
Ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong disease and, currently, there is no cure. “It’s not curable through yoga, it’s not curable through some fad diet, it’s not curable through some lotion or potion,” Gail says. However, getting regular exercise, practicing good posture, applying heat and cold to sore, stiff joints, and taking your medication as prescribed can ease symptoms and help you stay healthy and active.