Medications and Drugs
There are a number of different types of medications that have been found to be effective in managing the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Note that different people respond to different medications with varying levels of effectiveness. Thus, it may take time to find the most effective medication for treating someone with spondylitis.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are the most commonly used class of medication used in treating the pain and stiffness associated with spondyloarthritis. For example, Ibuprofen is a generic NSAID and is found in over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil and Motrin. They commonly come in tablet form and are taken orally.
Sometimes high doses of NSAIDs are needed to maintain relief from the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. This can pose a problem in that NSAIDs can cause significant side effects, especially in the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, etc.) NSAIDs can cause reduction in the protective mucus in the stomach, which can cause stomach irritation. In time, this can lead to heartburn, gastritis as well as ulcers and even bleeding. People can take other medications (such as antacids) to neutralize or prevent the production of excess stomach acid, take drugs to help coat and protect the stomach (such as Carafate), or take medication to help restore the lost mucus (such as Cytotec).
A different class of NSAIDs known as COX-2 inhibitors (or COXIBs) allegedly reduce the risk of gastrointestinal complications associated with traditional NSAID therapy. Celebrex (Celecoxib) is still being used to treat spondyloarthritis. Others, such as Vioxx, were pulled from the market because of potential cardiac side effects.
When NSAIDs Are Not Enough?
Although NSAIDs are commonly the first line of medications used to treat ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases, sometimes they aren’t enough to control the symptoms. It is important to note, however, that it may take several weeks for some NSAIDs to show positive results. If you are considering changing medications, remember to ask your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects before you and your doctor decide whether the change in treatment is right for you.
In severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis or related disease, NSAIDs may only be partially effective or the side effects too severe to continue their use. In this case, a doctor may prescribe one of the following medications.