There are two things you never want to hear from your doctor: “We are diagnosing you with (insert disorder or disease here)” and “There is no cure to this progressive disease.”

You can take this information in a few different ways. You can call it a day and give up, you can work with the beneficial ways for slowing progression but give up when the going gets tough OR you can fight like hell to keep your body in the best form possible despite every barrier that will through itself at you.

When I was first diagnosed at 19 with an autoimmune disease called Anklyosing Spondylitis, I thought that was it. For those that do not know what it is, Anklyosing Spondylitis is a progressive type of arthritis that leads to chronic inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints. It essentially causes the spine to stiffen from the inflammation and therefore may cause the fusing of the vertebrae. When you hear this, you assume you are destined to a life of pain and eventually a fused spine. What many fail to hear from the doctor is the preventative measures. You hear that? PREVENTATIVE. Never said it was going to be easy but when there is a will, there is a way to keep ahead of the disease that does not need to define a person.

Now is the time to take moment to zero in on yourself to do what your body is asking of you and you responding accordingly. Use the tips and tricks (proven by doctors) to do your best for the best thing out there-YOU!

The Tips and Tricks:

  • Exercise (Gentle and Consistent)

Aerobic and resistance training has been proven to reduce cardiovascular risk, improve function & movement, reduce inflammation, and reverse weakness and wasting of the body caused by illness.

-Talk to your doctor

-Try low impact activities (walking, water aerobics, yoga, etc.)

-Let your body rest between bouts of exercise or physical activity of any form

  • Nutrition

The nutritional management of autoimmune diseases usually emphasizes controlling pain and inflammation, slowing the progression of the disease, and boosting the immune system. And a few promising foods and nutrients are emerging as potentially beneficial (vitamins, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids). Maintaining a healthy diet also reduces weight gain to minimize adding excessive weight on the joints and body, as well as holds risks of its own being overweight. Find the food that fuels and supports your body that strays away from the processed, chemically induced foods many are addicted to today.

  • Maintain a Positive Attitude

They mean it when they say laughter is the best medicine! Maintaining a positive attitude is difficult some days but the thing that will get you out of bed, up and going, is an attitude that says “I can do this. I can go above and beyond.”

  • Relax

Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.

The key to it all is keep ahead of your disease before it gets ahead of you and there is no more turning back. There isn’t a second chance to irreversible effect of autoimmune disease. Focus on you, now! You’ll thank yourself later.


By: Nicole Langford


Scholary Article: J. K. Cooney, R-J. Law, V. Matschke, A. B. Lemmey, J. P. Moore, Y. Ahmad, J.G. Jones, P. Maddison, and J. M. Thom ( 2011) Benefits of Exercise in Arthritis, Journal of Aging Research, Volume 2011