Ankylosing Spondylitis – Some Natural Perspectives


Ankylosing spondylitis is a degenerative condition of the spine causing back pain and loss of mobility and flexibility. While medically treatment options are primarily pain killers and surgery, there are a number of natural and alternative strategies to manage this condition including nutrition, diet, exercise and massage.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS for short, is an inflammatory condition of the spine. Initially this starts with pain, inflammation and stiffness, eventually leading to a complete fusing of the affected vertebrae. The progress of this condition can be traced up the length of the spine and is typically first felt as a chronic lower back pain and stiffness of the hip joints.

When the vertebrae fuse, they typically fuse in a flexed condition. Where this occurs in the middle of the back it can lead to a hunched position. This places additional stress on other muscles and joints to compensate for the fixed position of the spine.

Demographically, ankylosing spondylitis affects three times as many men than women. It is particularly devastating in that it typically effects those in the 16 to 35 year age bracket, a demographic where stiff joints is one of the last things they should be worrying about. A similar condition, spondylosis, is a wear and tear degeneration that affects the elderly.

What can be done about Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Currently medically there are not a lot of options for those suffering Ankylosing Spondylitis. Most of the treatment options involve anti-inflammatories, pain killers and physiotherapy. Where cases warrant, surgery and joint replacement are sometimes recommended.

From a natural therapies perspective there are a few more options. It has been noticed that many people suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis also suffer from other forms of inflammatory diseases including IBS and Chrons. This has lead to an increasingly common view that it ankylosing spondylitis is an auto immune condition, however even this debatable as some of the key markers usually found in the blood of those with autoimmune conditions does not seem to be present in the case of ankylosing spondylitis.

As an autoimmune and inflammatory condition we utilise a treatment protocol that is very similar to that used when dealing with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. This includes:

  • an emphasis on improving the pH the internal bodily environment by increasing intake of alkaline foods, consumption of weak acids, appropriate mineral supplementation and the addition of some form of green superfood such as green barley;
  • the avoidance of pro-inflammatory foods and the increase of anti-inflammatory fats through the use of essential fatty acids either as a normal part of the diet, or through the use of supplementation;
  • repairing leaky gut and bacterial overgrowth, if present, using L-Glutamine, probiotics and the consumption of cultured foods.

Massage is also highly beneficial in ankylosing spondylitis. Our remedial massage therapists have helped many people find relief from pain and to maintain the mobility of the spine. When working with people effected by ankylosing spondylitis our goal is to preserve range of motion in the joints to prevent fusing. In our clinic this is achieved through passive stretching and supported with stretching exercises at home, pilates, yoga or tai-chi classes that emphasise mobility through the lower back, hips and knees.

Other forms of massage that can also be beneficial include styles such as lymphatic drainage or aromatherapy massage. Lymphatic drainage can be particularly helpful in dealing with and eliminating inflammation while aromatherapy massage in uses therapeutic essential oils targeted at reducing inflammation and pain.

Passion 4 Health is a wellness clinic located in Browns Plains, Brisbane. At Passion 4 Health we focus on management and maintenance of optimum health through an integrated lifestyle approach.

I provide diet and nutritional advice, iridology and live blood analysis.

Find out how you can reduce chronic disease and maintain optimum health by calling us now on 07 3800 1993.