Last updated:28th October 2016

Medication for AS

AS medications are given to improve your symptoms

Depending on the severity of your AS your doctor may need to give you a combination of medications to help you with the pain, stiffness and inflammation. If you are having a flare up of your AS you may want to talk to your GP or rheumatologist about altering your medication.

Medicines used to treat AS include:

Analgesics (painkillers). These reduce pain and are often used together with other medications for AS.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These reduce inflammation as well as pain. Again, they are often used alongside other medications. Naproxen, ibuprofen and diclofenac are types of NSAID in common use.

Corticosteroids (steroids). These drugs are very effective in controlling inflammation but can cause side effects in the longer term. They can be used in the form of local injections into joints or in tablet form.

Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). This group of drugs is used less commonly in AS but can reduce pain, stiffness and swelling in people who have symptoms of AS in areas such as the hips, knees, ankles or wrists (peripheral disease). There is no evidence DMARDs will help with pain in the spine (axial disease).

Nerve pain medication. These medications specifically help people who suffer from chronic (long term) nerve pain. This type of pain is caused by some damage to or pressure on nerves. Nerve pain is often described by people as being like 'shooting pains', 'electric shocks', 'tingling' or 'the sensation of crawling under the skin'. Amitriptylline is the most commonly used medication in this group.

Anti TNF therapy. These are biologic medications which can be prescribed by rheumatologists when anti inflammatories aren't working or you have side effects. Currently adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia) etanercept (Enbrel and Benepali), golimumab (Simponi) and infliximab (Remicade and other brands) are forms of anti TNF available to people with AS.

Anti IL-17A. This is another type of biologic medication. It can either be used where anti inflammatories aren't working or you have side effects or where anti TNF therapy hasm't worked or you have had side effects. Secukinumab (Cosentyx) is the only anti IL 17A currently available.


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