Recovering from Ankylosing Spondylitis and Spinal Disc Bulge

You may come across my story about my back pain story. Having this kind of condition, made my opportunities limited and it almost led me into depression and anxiety. The intense pain that I went through was 24/7 and it came to a point that every single movement and touch created sudden excruciating pain. Despite the pain, I still went to work because I believed that being stuck at home would make me think much of my condition. Going to work was my way of distraction. However, I am working in a clinical process industry as a medical utilization review nurse and the medical conditions that I usually analyze were the same conditions as mine. So I still can’t escape the thoughts of terrfying pain.

Well, my MRI showed disc bulges on the two levels of my spine L4-L5 and L5-S1 plus the chronic and severe SI joint inflammation. The disc bulging  MRI results were definitive and I also agreed on it. However, for the SI joint inflammation, further tests were required in order to rule out its etiology, whether it was infectious in origin or if it was Ankylosing Spondylitis. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a form of arthritis that usually affects the spine. It inflames the spinal joints, which can lead to severe chronic pain and discomfort. Its hallmark feature is the involvement of the Sacroiliac joint (SI).

So, I had series of tests and the results were remarkable. Knowing that my rheumatologist ruled out that it was indeed Ankylosing Spondylitis. It made me worry much because there is no exact cure for it. If it is unmanaged, the symptoms are no joke. I was already in total pain and I can’t walk without the assistance of a cane. When I discovered the possible progressing symptoms that an AS patient could experience such as having a bamboo spine, it made me feel that my world was crushed. So, how am I recovering from it? How did I go from severe to mild pain? How am I currently gaining back my life?

My Heart and Intuition Chose Initial Conservative Treatment Options
My rheumatologist told me that I needed to undergo biological therapy. A biologic therapy involves targeting molecules responsible for the mechanism of the immune system. Let me skip more of the scientific terminologies but the common drugs are disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and anti-cytokines, just to name some. To make it short, the idea is to suppress the overreacting immune system. These drugs are administered intravenously and are costly. Aside from its cost, I do not want to hurt my system more. I discussed the new diagnosis to my chiropractor, he does not fully agree with the new diagnosis. I brought up the topic about the biologic therapy and my hesitations for it. He gave me light to try initial conservative treatments first.

I took a Rest
I initially researched everything about AS. Since it is an autoimmune disease, the only way to manage it is to balance your immune system. The ways are complicated, but the highlight is to manage its roots.
Moreover, I do not want to instill in my mind and body that I am having AS.

I decided to be Off-work
Although I was afraid for the income that I would lose, I finally decided to be off work when my rheumatologist told me that I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I realized that I was just punishing myself more whenever I go to work. Instead of spending my energy to work, I tried to reserve for my extra energy for healing.

I Accepted my Condition
This is when I started to feel better. I accepted that fact that the pain is a part of my life. However, am thinking brightly that it is just temporary. I have this kind of a pain because I abused myself and there are negativities inside me. The pain is a consequence of my actions and a reminder that I needed to take slow and care for myself.

I am Thinking Positively
Stress is the mother of all diseases. Being stressed causes increase inflammation in the body. A high level of stress increases the cortisol levels in your body, which triggers inflammation process. Right now, whenever a problem arises, I don’t think of it much. I usually open my heart and mind. Moreover, there is a solution for everything and being stressed would not help.
I came across with ASVictors website, where I found imagery as an immediate pain relief. Moreover, I silently joined a group on facebook group MindBody Healing With Ralphitness, where I was able to learn that there are also other people who are suffering from this condition. Moreover, I was able to hear testimonies and obtain emotional and mental cues for AS recovery.

Starch Free Diet

Many studies show that starchy foods can make your autoimmune symptoms worst.
So I decided to cut my starch consumption.

– I only had glutinous rice
– Coconut sugar as sweetener
– No baked goods
– More meat and vegetables
– Natural Fruit Juices
– Fruits especially pineapple
I also based whatever I consume from THE LONDON “AS” DIET from Kickas.

Apple Cider a Day

Apple Cider indeed has a lot of benefits. I though that it is only for losing weight and for beauty purposes; however, it could actually be a treatment for AS. I initially learned about the Apple Cider treatment from Kyle Mecca’s video on youtube.

I tried it and I believe that it worked for me actually.

There are many studies in pubmed.com that show a link between gut microbes and stimulation of autoimmune condition. Apple Cider vinegar could clean your gut, decreasing the bacteria that are associated with the autoimmune inflammation process.
Here is the evidenced-based medical research by Dr. Alan Ebringer.

I wish I could extend my gratitude to him for pioneering that research.
Exercise

I did my best to move as much as possible. Although the amount of pain was terrible, I knew that if I don’t move, my muscles would atrophy. I got my muscles working; I tolerated simple and gentle exercises. I remember that I can’t raise my pelvis for the bridge exercise before. I started with two, progressed to five, and now I can do it gently with no pain at all. I also had the opportunity to attend yoga class by Casandra, where I learned more helpful exercise and stretching routines for my back pain. She also went through musculoskeletal chronic pain condition and had a full recovery, so her story inspired me as well. Her training suits me well. She understands my condition because she also suffered the same thing. She is the best yoga mentor that I met. To know her more and to learn from  her personally just check out her page trainwithcassandra.

Chiropractic Treatment
I love visiting my chiropractor because he was just so therapeutic. The very first time that I walked in his clinic; everything around my low back including my hips and groin hurts. Whenever I do the treatment, he always says that I am going to be healed. Every after the chiropractic sessions, I experience immediate relief on certain portions of my low back, until my groin and butt pains subsided.
I do not take any pain medications; I only had physical therapy once. The chiropractic treatment played a major role in my recovery.
If you are in the Philippines, visit Dr. Pardi’s clinic in Ayala Cebu, he is a licensed chiropractor from America. I do not know any chiropractic doctor in the Philippines except him.

As of now, I am back to work, I can walk very well, and I was able to travel. I am grateful that I was able to manage my condition and gained back my strength. Although not in total recovery yet, I believe that I am getting there and I would be back as before. I am sharing this post to give insights and hope to people who are suffering from the same condition. If I was able to recover, why won’t you? Start it with your mind.

Did you also suffer from chronic pain, how did you handle it? Maybe, you have questions regarding this post; just do not hesitate to post in my box. I would love to discuss healing with you.

Health and healing,

ARL1

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. Debbie L says:

    This was great! So much to learn. Thank you for sharing your healing methods. I agree with you to find the conservative treatments and your diet.

    Like

  2. Shakir says:

    Wow that’s great..It means you have tried everything like diet exercise yoga ACV chiropractor.. Which thing helped you the most?

    Like

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello Shakir:) Yes, I have tried it all, altogether. I cannot say which one specifically because I had it in combination. I was already undergoing chiropractic sessions plus yoga stretches every morning and night for few minutes as long as I can tolerate it to make my muscles working. My diagnosis AS diagnosis came late. Then, I learned about the ACV and tried it with low starch diet while continuing chiropractic and yoga. I started to feel much better.
      In my opinion, ACV plus starch free diet is for the the root cause of my AS (autoimmune dse, linked to gastrointestinal bacteria) as I’ve mentioned on the post. While for the chiropractic, it is more for my disc bulge and spinal alignment and it worked best in combination of yoga.

      Like

  3. gemsmom says:

    Great post Arlene! I suffer from spinal stenosis, and deal with chronic pain. Affecting my daily life. You’re story gives me hope that I can find something that works for my specific condition. Might even try some of your practises.
    Good luck on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello gemsmom 🙂 Thank you for reading my post. Chronic pain could indeed limit our function. Well, it is quite depressing also to avoid the activities that we usually do on our pre-injury status. During the time that I was on severe pain. I kept on browsing about healing. There were people who have been successful. So, it gave me a sense of positivity to recover and try methods that worked for them carefully.
      Good luck gemsmom.
      Healing is always there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Avril says:

    Thanks for sharing Arlene. Also been diagnosed with AS in February 2017. Looking at natural methods and trying to avoid biologics. I’m on low starch for some time now and think it is time to cut dairy next. Also consider going to a chiropractor, but also hesitant that it will cause me more pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello Avril. 🙂 thanks for taking time to read my post. Oh, you were just diagnosed recently. How many months are you experiencing it? Do you also have 24/7 pain? In my case, I really did not try biologics because for sure, its effect would be systemic. Along with the diet, do you also use ACV?

      xoxo,
      Arlene

      Like

      1. Avril says:

        Hi Arlene. I had surgery in December (removal of ovarian cyst). I started having constant lower back pain since then. I remember clearly I had similar symptoms 8 years ago, but somehow disappeared. My rheumathologist prescribed anti inflammatories and at the moment using sulfasalazine, but not sure whether it’s making a difference. I started the ACV a few days ago. I will be having a MRI scan soon. Are you on any meds?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Arlene says:

        Hello Avril.. thanks for dropping by. Am sorry to hear about the pain. The MRI would surely help determine your case. As of now Avril, am not taking medications. I also had anti-inflammatories before, but I stopped because of its bad effects to other organs. After I stopped taking anti-inflammatories, I used turmeric tea for substitue. I have read that turmeric has an anti-inflammatory effects and has a lot of health benefits too.

        Like

  5. frydogfloke says:

    Thanks for writing this post. Keep up the good spirit☀️😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Thank you so much 🙂 May you have a great day

      Like

  6. You are clearly a beautiful soul and I am sorry about your pain. Thank you for your interest in my blog and I look forward to following yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      thanks much !

      Like

  7. npoise says:

    Hi Arlene,
    Thank you for your sharing, I really appreciate this. I am tested positive for AS this April 2017 due to cervical spine bulging. Could I ask did you take NSAID during your recovery process with low starch diet+AC?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello Npoise. Thank you for reading my post.. 🙂
      I had NSAID’s initially for about 3 months on and off. I know that NSAIDS for long-term use could cause serious side effects, but I took to endure my pain at work under my Otho’s prescription. However, I stopped when I was hospitalized due to a liver condition for one week.
      So, I believe that NSAIDS contributed to it. So right then, even though my pain was still severe, I did not take any pain meds anymore and allow my liver to heal naturally. It happened around September last year.
      Then i searched for natural remedies to substitute anti-inflammatories as NSAID’s . I found turmeric tea as one of the beneficial remedy.

      I was not on NSAID’s anymore when I started to use ACV and low starch diet. I was able to search about it just earlier this year.
      You can read more about NSAID’s and its adverse effect here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1855338/.

      Soon, I will share more about the natural remedies that I had as substitute for NSAID’s Npoise.
      Are u currently under NSAID’s Npoise?
      I hope this would help Npoise.. Donot hesitate to drop queries.
      Victory is on us!

      Like

  8. npoise says:

    Thank you for the quick response.
    Yes, I am on NSAID currently together with muscle relaxant, my rheumy prescribed it for 3 months. I am looking at alternative of not taking it. Can’t agree more with you the effect of NSAID especially for the stomach.

    I am trying to reduce my starch intake with essential oils. Looking forward to other substitutes besides turmeric tea.😇

    Liked by 1 person

    1. npoise says:

      Hello Arlene,
      I would like to share my healing journey with you as you were the first person who motivated me to search for alternative to NSAID, I stopped NSAID in mid May. I would like to share my blog here https://npoise.wordpress.com/category/eos/

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to sell or treat, just sharing what I am using for myself. This blog is newly created (so it is quite bare), hoping to create greater awareness about AS in my country.

      Very thankful to you! xoxo
      (If you are coming to Singapore again, we could get in touch. I haven’t been to Cebu, I only been to Makati and Clark Base areas.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Arlene says:

        Hello npoise, thats is so kind of you. Thank you for sharing it. Also, I am happy to know that you were able to write about it and share your ways to receovery.
        My apologies, I have not updated my blog for some weeks, since my schedules are fully loaded.
        As for my back, it is getting better everyday. I always remind myself not to push hard.
        Oh, thanks you for that npoise. I am more than willing to meet you one of these day.
        Someday. if I will go to your country or probably stop by from a connecting flight, I will surely message you and meet you.
        Have a great day npoise!

        Like

  9. lfpessemier says:

    I can’t say enough good about ACV. I had gout and the drugs to suppress it made the auto-immune problems worse. I feel much better, have lost weight. NSAIDS did a job on my liver, as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello pessemier!! Oh.. am so gald to read your comment. Yah, for me its really helpful. Great thing we were able to discover about it.
      Thanks a lot pessemier for dropping your experience about ACV, surely it would give light to those who are curious about ACV and its benefit.

      Like

  10. My mother and sister both suffer from various spine and disc issues. I’ve seen how disabling it can be. Please make sure to not let pride or stubborness cause you further pain. I always have to argue with them not to push to hard. Take care and good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Arlene says:

      Thank you so much for your words. It is true, most of the times chronic pain comes from pushing too hard. In my case, I already felt a bit of pain before but i kept on pushing and did not listen to body. I experienced lots of stress until the condition worsened.
      It is a reminder to everyone, to be gentle pamper self more than pushing beyond the limit.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Elaine Olund says:

    Inspiring! So glad you found a healing path and followed it with such dedication.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Hello Elaine:) Thank you. I feel so grateful about my progress. The pain was really terrible and it just made me cry most of the day. As of now, am m way to complete healing and I am slowly and gently going back to my normal pre-injury activities. I think being positive about everything also played a big role in my recovery. The mind can direct cells on the body to be strong and be healed.
      Have a great day Elaine and always pamper and give time to yourself.
      Xoxo,
      arlene

      Like

  12. Diego says:

    Dear Arlene
    Thanks for sharing healing story.
    3 months ago I was diagnosed AS (HLA B27 +) and the terrible joint pain started until today
    I am currently taking a ton of anti-inflammatories and painkillers, also I changed my diet completely (The Paddison program – a raw plant base diet) with very slight positive results. I do not want to start with biological medicine (as my rheumatology has recommended it)
    But after reading your story, I think there is still hope. Any suggestion about where to start
    All the best,
    Diego

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My kids dad side of the family all have this. Their dad has it, and it has effected his organs. Wow. Thabks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. polloplayer says:

    Thanks for the visit and like on polloplayer. Amazed that chiropractic works for your issues – most is too harsh for the kind of injuries you describe. 20+ years of SI/nerve entrapment issues here so I :truly: feel your pain…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      Oh really? Indeed, it was not just me. I believe that am better now and credits to my chiropractor because he contributed to my healing specially for conditioning my mind that healing exists and it is possible. Whenever, I try to recall the pain that I had during the peak of my SI condition. It was just so bad. I am just grateful right now that my activities are getting back. However, this time I am so careful about everything. How about you? How are you this month? What are the modalities that you have tried and what modalities works for you? How do you fight the pain?

      sincerely,
      arlene

      Like

  15. Five says:

    Hello Arlene! I found your blog very useful and want to hear your opinion:

    I’m 28 and i was diagnosed with AS around two months ago by a rheumatologist after HLA B27 was positive and because of some flare joints(one at right sole, 3rd finger from left hand and left clavicle)

    I almost don’t have any kind of back pain right now after two weeks on no starch diet but i still have flare joint on my hand on my clavicle.

    After starting ACV diet, how many weeks took for you to have flares completely disappeared?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene says:

      hello Five, am sorry for I was not being active here for months already. I was quite busy with my job. Overall, am in great health now. it took me about one and a half month until I noticed that there were changes and that was in combination with a low starch diet.
      I was just eating glutinous rice, vegetable, meat (pork,beef, and fish), almost no sugar. I also made coconut flakes for snacks with coconut sugar as a sweetener. My symptoms started around May last year, gradually worsened, and reached its peak from august to December. I went to different practitioners and byDecember last year, I was diagnosed with AS, then started to drink ACV. By January, I decided to be off work because I don’t want to push my self working in pain anymore. I was religiously taking the ACV and low starch diet then gave my body rest and healing. I also did some pelvic exercises that I could slowly tolerate. Until, I was able to get rid of the cane by the end of January this year. I am walking well now without the use of pain. I still have minimal pain now; however, it is not on my SI joint anymore. Currently, am just being careful about food and I am not pushing myself much anymore. As much as possible I avoid stress. Most importantly, I always tell myself that healing is always here.

      Like

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