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Living With Axial Spondyloarthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023

Living with a chronic condition like axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) can affect many areas of your life. People with axSpA have different experiences, and some people have worse symptoms than others. But everyone with axSpA must make certain adjustments to live well with the condition.1

Steps you can take to manage axSpA

There are things about axSpA that you cannot control. The condition is progressive, and there is no cure. But by being proactive with your health, you can help manage the disease.1

There are many lifestyle changes you can make to stay as healthy as possible when you have axSpA. Here are a few important ones:1

  • Take medicine as prescribed, and talk to your doctor about possible side effects
  • Eat healthy foods to give your body the nutrition it needs
  • Stay active through regular stretching, exercise, and physical therapy
  • Stop smoking to improve your symptoms and your overall health
  • Get a good night’s sleep every night to give your body proper rest and recovery time
  • Make changes to your home or work life to support your body, if necessary
  • Recognize your limitations, and honor them
  • Manage stress and care for your mental health
  • Ask for help when you need it

Medicines for axSpA

There are drugs that can help to reduce the inflammation and symptoms that come with axSpA. These drugs can also help prevent or slow structural damage and other problems that might occur because of the disease.1

You and your doctor will decide which treatment is best for your situation. Tell your doctor about any side effects you experience with drugs for axSpA. Keeping track of your symptoms with an app or writing them down can help your doctor decide how well your current regimen is working.1,2


A healthy diet is good for everyone. But people with chronic conditions like axSpA should be extra careful about what they eat.1,2

There is no one perfect diet that has been proven to work for everyone with axSpA. But, in general, a healthy diet includes:1,2

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins
  • Limited amounts of fat, alcohol, and sugar

Some people with axSpA may find additional dietary changes helpful for their body. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about what they recommend.1,2


Exercise and physical therapy are recommended for all people with axSpA to help keep joints mobile and reduce the symptoms of pain and stiffness. There are many different types of exercise people with axSpA can do. But experts suggest avoiding high-impact activities. Low-impact options to consider include:1,3

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Yoga
  • Swimming

Self-care and emotional health

Taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Having a healthy diet and exercising both help support good mental health. But sometimes you also need to do things to help reduce stress, like taking breaks or deep breathing exercises.4

Remember to ask for support when you need it. Whether from family, friends, a therapist, or others with axSpA, there is never any harm in asking for help. Dealing with the daily pain and restrictions of life with axSpA is challenging. The first step in making sure your needs are met is to be specific about what you need and what is not helpful to you.1,4

Together, with help from your friends, family, and doctor, living with axSpA can be manageable. You can learn to understand your condition and take positive actions that promote overall health and well-being. Taking the time to focus on eating well, staying active, and managing stress is a very important part of living with axSpA. By taking charge of your needs, you can work toward living an active and fulfilling life.1,4

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