Ankylosing Sputylitis is a type of arthritis that causes swelling in the joints of the spine.

If you have AS, the swelling can cause back pain and make it hard to walk. It can lead to disabling pain and loss of flexibility in the spine.

You may have pain in your hips, ribs, knees, and shoulders as well. It can affect other organs as it progresses.

Anyone can develop AS, but it’s more likely in men over age 45 who have a family history of AS.

Treatments and lifestyle changes can help you or anyone with AS manage pain and inflammation, slow the progression of AS, and live your best, most fulfilling life.

Roselyn Tolliver, who has been diagnosed with AS, has figured out how to live her life despite the diagnosis.

Roselyn Tolliver personal story
Image provided by Roselyn Tolliver

Roselyn was 12 years old when she began to experience symptoms of AS. She says that her first symptoms were lung inflammation and neck and shoulder pain.

Roselyn says that she had an unexplained viral illness for 3 months. She developed a lot of fatigue after that.

Roselyn joined the Navy despite her health problems. She developed new problems while serving.

Roselyn had trouble with her health over the next 28 years, and doctors were stumped as she developed joint pain and swelling in her eyes.

“She says she didn’t get diagnosed until after she was negative for the disease because of her family history.”

She had already undergone 10 joint surgeries, had numerous pain injections, and suffered permanent damage to several joints when she was diagnosed.

She still takes time to be active despite the delay in diagnosis.

“I try to be active as much as I can, but I can no longer do the strenuous activities I used to do. I don’t sit in my recliner until 9 pm every day unless I’m having a lot of pain, but I do do housework and dance around.”

Roselyn Tolliver personal story
Image provided by Roselyn Tolliver

She has regular exercise routines.

I do a stretching routine in bed every morning and night, and my husband and I walk our dog around our neighborhood at least 3 to 4 times a week. I walk the mall with my headphones on if he is busy or hot.

She has to take steps to help with her pain. I wear a knee brace every time, and sometimes I also wear my elbow brace. I use a cane if I am bad off.

She also spoke about going swimming in summer months. Many experts point to water exercise as a good way to ease joint pain. And while this may be true for some, Roselyn finds that it isn’t much easier on her joints.

She loves being outside. We try to get outside every day. We go for a walk when it is not 100 degrees and swimming when it is. We love to travel and go sightseeing.

Roselyn Tolliver personal story
Image provided by Roselyn Tolliver

There is a downside to all the activities she does. She explains that trying to stay active has led to multiple surgeries.

I have to stop whenever I get in a good mood with an activity because it can get injured.

When my husband and I were riding our bikes, this happened. I had to stop riding because of my knee and elbow. I had an elbow surgery in 2020 and a knee replacement in September. I keep getting up on the horse.

Her positive attitude makes sense. She attributes her activity level to helping her stay flexible and able to endure long days, including recently helping her son and his fiancée plan their wedding at her house.

She says she was active from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. most days.

She benefits from exercise with both physical and mental health benefits. When I walk alone, listening to my favorite music, it is very therapeutic.

A native of San Franciscan, Roz Tolliver has five adult children and three grandchildren. She has become an advocate for other people with spondies. She co-led the Sacramento SAA support group until December of last year, when she relocated to California and started a new group there. She has been featured in several AS awareness projects. She finds helping others with her disease empowering.