Q: I am a 36-year-old woman looking for an ankylosing spondylitis treatment. I'm bending forward due to the fusion occurring, particularly in my neck. Are there any kind of back/neck braces that I could be fitted for to maintain the posture I currently have and to eliminate further curving?

A: Forward flexion (bending forward) of the neck and trunk is a problem for people with ankylosing spondylitis. Wearing neck and/ or back braces is not a practical solution to prevent further flexion, but there are other relatively basic ankylosing spondylitis treatments. 

For one, always sit and stand as erect as possible because correct posture is important. Also, you should sleep on your back, without a pillow under your head and neck (or using as flat a pillow as possible), and break up long periods of sitting or standing in a forward-flexed position (such as sitting at a desk) with flexibility exercises. You should be exercising every day. Exercises that emphasize back and neck extension and stretching and mobility of the chest and upper trunk musculature should be part of your regular routine. I would recommend seeing a physical therapist, who will be able to instruct you in an appropriate exercise program.

Kitty Haralson, PT, MLA, Physical Therapist