|Part of the My Care Navigator series|
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Medications like biologics are an integral part of your nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) treatment plan. However, embracing healthy lifestyle changes to support your mind and body can help you feel better, faster.
Remember you’re not in this alone — your doctor can suggest ways to improve your physical health. They can recommend personalized exercises and stretches, and even refer you to a physical therapist to help get you started. They can also tell you about anti-inflammatory diets, like the Mediterranean diet. These diets are high in whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins and low in sugars, processed foods, and saturated fats. Research has shown they can help people with nr-axSpA feel better.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your mental and emotional health, either. Be honest with your doctor if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression — symptoms that are common in people with chronic conditions. Your doctor can recommend medications, counseling, stress-reducing practices like meditation, support groups, and other ways to boost your spirits and your well-being.
Watch this video for guidance on how to talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes. From there, check out other videos in this series on how to start a conversation about nr-axSpA treatments with your doctor, how to discuss biologic therapy and potential side effects, and ways to stick with your treatment.
Have more questions? See if they’re among the top three questions rheumatologist Dr. Siddharth Tambar gets about nr-axSpA.
On MySpondylitisTeam — the social network for people with spondylitis and their loved ones — members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with spondylitis.
Have you and your rheumatologist had a conversation about lifestyle changes for nr-axSpA? What has or hasn’t worked? What other questions do you have? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
00:00:05:00 - 00:00:09:02
Besides starting treatment with a biologic, is there anything else I can do to feel better?
00:00:09:12 - 00:00:16:00
Exercise is key. It may sound strange, but the more regularly you exercise and do stretches, the better you’ll feel.
00:00:16:07 - 00:00:17:09
OK. I didn’t know that.
00:00:17:14 - 00:00:22:05
I can refer you to a physical therapist that can help you get started with some safe exercises.
00:00:22:14 - 00:00:27:07
I’m not sure my insurance will cover a physical therapist, and I can’t afford one on my own.
00:00:27:14 - 00:00:32:17
I can share some free resources that have safe exercises and stretches that can help you.
00:00:32:23 - 00:00:37:01
That would be great. Thank you. Can my diet make a difference?
00:00:37:07 - 00:00:56:04
There’s some evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet can help some people with axSpA feel better. There are several types of anti-inflammatory diets, like the Mediterranean diet. They tend to be high in fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins and low in sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats.
00:00:56:16 - 00:00:58:00
What about supplements?
00:00:58:07 - 00:01:10:19
It depends. Some supplements can cause problems. Always let me know if you try a new supplement. I can help you make sure it’s a safe dosage and not something that can interact with other medications that you take.
00:01:11:01 - 00:01:13:03
Are there any other ways I can feel better?
00:01:13:09 - 00:01:24:18
Yes, several. Look for ways to reduce stress. Stress can make inflammation worse for some people. Do you have any hobbies, or do you get plenty of quality time with friends?
00:01:24:23 - 00:01:26:07
Not as much as I’d like to.
00:01:27:01 - 00:01:34:00
Meditation or prayer, playing games, or music — anything that relieves stress can help you feel your best.
00:01:34:07 - 00:01:35:02
I can do that.
00:01:35:17 - 00:01:44:04
And joining a support group in person or online can help you remember you’re not alone and get tips for what helps.
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00:01:45:08 - 00:02:06:00
At our follow-up appointments, please share with me if you’re having trouble with depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, they’re more common among people with conditions like axSpA. Your emotional well-being is just as important as treating your axSpA. I can connect you with resources that can help.