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 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.
Biologic therapy. There are two types of biologic therapy (anti IL 17A and anti TNF therapy) which have been licensed to treat AS and are approved by NICE. Both work by reducing the inflammation produced by the body. These are:
- Anti IL 17A
- Anti TNF therapy
We know there are more currently in development and going through clinical trials.
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