Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Experimentation Helped Me Find the Right Complementary Therapies

What haven't I tried when it comes to managing ankylosing spondylitis

People ask me what I think are the best things they can do to manage their chronic disease. As far as I see it, there isn't any right or wrong way to manage it.

But if you’re interested in learning some of the things I’ve done in the past and what I do currently, keep reading.

I’ve tried acupuncture treatments on and off over time. I really like the effects of acupuncture on my body. Some of the benefits I have experienced are:

  • Less pain in my upper neck and back
  • Feeling calm and relaxed (I fell asleep a few times on the table)

If you haven't considered acupuncture, I would highly recommend looking into it because It can be a great addition to  your chronic pain tool kit. 

I’ve also put on my shorts and running shoes and met with a physiotherapist on a floor mat. I liked physiotherapy for pain relief because it helped promote healthier joints while increasing my flexibility.

When I worked with a physiotherapist, I was provided with a personal plan that targeted specific areas of my body in order to develop strength and mobility. The exercises were based on my comfort level, which I found extremely helpful so I wasn’t left feeling overwhelmed.

I also had extensive physiotherapy after my first hip replacement surgery. Being on the operating table was a piece of cake compared to the 2 times a week for 7 months spent in physio. The sessions were challenging, grueling, and I had my moments of doubt whether I would be able to regain the strength in my leg muscles again.

But my physiotherapist was fantastic and so encouraging. I would recommend physiotherapy if you haven’t considered it. Just don't expect huge miracles to take place overnight. Patience and consistency are the keys to working with a physiotherapist to help you get to the place that you want to be with pain relief. Rome wasn't built in a day right? Keep an open mind and learn what works best for your body.

Next on my list? Massage therapy. Raise your hand if you also enjoy the experience of a talented masseuse. Massage is wonderful and I've had really good experiences.

I’ve experimented with different types of massage so I could learn which types works well for my body. 

In the past, when I would go for a massage, I really liked to be kneaded like a piece of dough because I thought that was the best way to get the knots out. I knew my limits so I didn’t walk out of a session in worse shape than when I went in.

But through trial and error, I’ve realized that this isn’t the method my body likes. Now I opt for a gentler approach. My body responds well and I feel very relaxed afterward.

Experimentation is the name of the game (are you seeing a pattern here yet?). Try different types of massage and compare them to each other so you can discover what your body responds well to. Don’t think your way to a conclusion, feel your way.

I've lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years, so I’ve dug deep into the well of experimentation to find the best ways to manage and reduce pain in my neck, upper back and knees.

I believe the most important thing for anyone to do is to experiment to learn what works best. Then stick to whatever works. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or not doing. Find ways to manage your chronic pain that feel good and right for you.



Photo Credit:  Goodshoot RF via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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