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The Consumer’s Guide to JAK Inhibitors for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Get the facts about the newest FDA-approved treatment for this type of arthritis that affects the spine.

Medically Reviewed

U ntil recently, the treatments for ankylosing spondylitis — a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine — have lagged behind those of other forms of arthritis. Luckily, though, things may be starting to change.

In 2021 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new class of drugs for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis: Janus kinase, or JAK, inhibitors.

How JAK Inhibitors Work for Ankylosing Spondylitis

7 Essential Facts About JAK Inhibitors for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Are JAK Inhibitors Right for You?

Today, JAK inhibitors are typically prescribed for use in people who have more moderate to severe ankylosing spondylitis and have tried other treatments but are still having trouble controlling the condition. Other treatment options you may need to try first include:

  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or COX-2 inhibitors, which are often used to treat symptoms in milder cases of ankylosing spondylitis
  • Biologics, such as TNF inhibitors or IL-17 inhibitors, which are typically prescribed first to manage moderate to severe ankylosing spondylitis and prevent disease progression

For now, JAK inhibitors are third in line for treating ankylosing spondylitis. That said, “Treatment guidelines were developed before any JAK inhibitors were approved,” explains Dubreuil. The guidelines, developed by the American College of Rheumatology with the Spondylitis Association of America and Spondyloarthritis Research and Treatment Network, were released in 2015.

“They haven’t yet incorporated the JAK inhibitor data,” says Dubreuil. “It may be that in the coming years, these drugs come a little earlier in that treatment algorithm, especially as we get more data in regards to adverse events or safety.”

JAK Inhibitors for Ankylosing Spondylitis: Frequently Asked Questions

Get the scoop: Here’s what other people are asking their doctors about JAK inhibitors.

Next Steps: Making Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment Decisions

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Congratulations

You’ve learned a lot about JAK inhibitors for ankylosing spondylitis. So, what’s next?

Take some extra time to absorb all of this information and decide if JAK inhibitors are something you might want to consider.

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Self-Reflection

Before your next appointment, think about your current treatment plan and how well it’s controlling your ankylosing spondylitis.

  1. Are you satisfied with your current treatment?
  2. Has your current treatment improved your ankylosing spondylitis symptoms as well as you had hoped?
  3. Are you able to follow your treatment regimen as prescribed?
  4. Are you downplaying any symptoms or side effects to your doctor?
  5. How frequently, if ever, do you cancel plans or activities because of your condition?
  6. Have you tried other treatments to see if they help you better manage your condition?
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Doctor Discussion

If you’re having trouble finding the right ankylosing spondylitis treatment plan, you might want to talk to your doctor about JAK inhibitors. Here are a few conversation starters that you can ask at your next appointment.

  1. Do you think it’s possible for me to gain better control of my ankylosing spondylitis?
  2. What else can I do to better manage my condition?
  3. Which medications do you recommend, and why?
  4. Am I a good candidate for a JAK inhibitor?
  5. If so, what type of results might I expect?
  6. How often should I monitor the progress of my treatment?