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Finding the Right Treatment for Axial Spondyloarthritis

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3 Things to Tell Your Doctor About Your Spinal Arthritis

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Male Caucasian patient with back pain being examined by male Caucasian doctor

Managing spinal arthritis, also known as axial spondyloarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, can be challenging. That is why it’s important to build a strong relationship with your spinal arthritis doctor.

At your next appointment, don’t forget to mention these three things.

1. You’re experiencing worsening pain or stiffness in your back.

The pain and swelling of spinal arthritis can usually be managed by medication, lifestyle changes, and other therapies. However, it doesn’t always stay the same. Sometimes, treatments stop being as effective and the disease progresses, leading to more pain and more damage to your spine.

It can seem scary to admit your symptoms are worse, but it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about any changes so you can adjust your medications and other treatments appropriately.

2. You’re having trouble following your treatment plan.

Managing your spinal arthritis means you should follow your doctor’s treatment plan, whether that means committing to taking medications, physical therapy, exercise, diets, or other strategies. However, it can be hard to stick with these therapies if you’re experiencing side effects or your treatments don’t fit with your lifestyle.

If you aren’t able to commit to your treatment plan, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Be honest with your doctor about these challenges so you can work together to find a solution, which might mean a different drug or therapy, an adjusted dosing schedule, or a practical lifestyle change.

3. You’re struggling with mental health.

Dealing with a chronic condition like spinal arthritis can be stressful, and it’s common for people to experience anxiety and depression as a result. Spinal arthritis can make you feel socially isolated on top of the pain, all of which contributes to loneliness and depressed moods. These mood changes may only be a problem when you experience a flare-up of symptoms, or they may last for weeks, months, or years.

If you’re experiencing feelings of depression for extended periods of time, or even just every so often, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about it so you can find help. Depression and anxiety are both treatable conditions, and treating them can actually make your spinal arthritis symptoms better and prevent flare-ups.

Just because your spinal arthritis doctor isn’t a psychiatrist or counselor doesn’t mean he or she can’t provide you with mental health support–and send you in the direction of a mental health professional.


Living with spinal arthritis can be extremely difficult at times, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Your spinal arthritis doctor is there to help you manage all aspects of your condition, from the physical to the emotional. Make a commitment to be honest with your physician so you receive the best care possible.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Jan 20
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.