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AS and the Military

Been living with AS since my time in the USArmy. It started with a sharp pain in my left ankle. I hobbled around and went on sick call with them basically laughing, “What’s the issue? Did you twist your ankle?” “Nope, when I run and skip rope it just really hurts” “Don’t run or skip rope for 2 days”. Oh, ok that will fix it…

That turned into the platoon Sgt. telling to just go to motor pool no PT. No record of that hmmmm…. Then I sneeze and cannot move without a sharp pain in my back and stomach. The military docs call it a thoracic sprain. Again, I did nothing but sneeze. Until this past Jan, the day before my birthday, age 55, I was finally diagnosed by the VA with AS.

So I am not crazy?! This pain is real?? Okay… now what…

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • RozFromOz
    3 months ago

    Wow, our stories are very similar. I felt my first back and knee pain during boot camp after very minor injuries. All I did was twist my back and it’s hurt for 30 years since. My breathing and bowel issues started then too. Of course, my Company Commander thought I was lying or exaggerating until tests showed there WAS something wrong. I didn’t get diagnosed with AS until last year, 29 years later, by a civilian rheumy. I probably would never gotten diagnosed with AS by the VA, but that’s a story for another time. Glad you finally got a diagnosis so you could get proper treatment-hope it’s helping 🙂

  • Erin King moderator
    4 months ago

    @jwbuck– when I first started to feel the symptoms of my AS everyone I went to for medical intervention suggested I use crutches for a few days just to take the pressure off of my joints and hopefully it would go away. Unfortunately it seems like stories like these are all too common, but I’m glad you were able to get a correct diagnosis! I also see below that you are now on Humira…hopefully it is effective for you and finally offers you some relief.

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    4 months ago


    First I am glad you have a correct diagnosis. Often getting that diagnosis is one of the toughest parts. It sounds like you are being treated by the VA and i am sure they have protocols for treating AS. Likely, but not necessarily, you will be started on an anti inflammatory medication, these are often called NSAID’s. Depending on how these medications work you will likely be evaluated for other medications. All of these medications must be prescribed by a physician so it is best to have an open discussion about how you are doing and where you want to go from here.

    I suggest you might look at one of the online symptom trackers so you can accumulate data to discuss how you are doing with your doctor.

    If gettign to a diagnosis is difficult, feeling better can take similar work. I hope you will stick with it and find your way forward. We are counting on it for you.

  • JWBuck author
    4 months ago

    yes I have been through every pain offering avaiable otc, nsaids opiates none of which did much but cause me other issues… the sad thing is I did not get listened too, protocol is all the do. till it is exhausted and by then so are you…. humira is what I am on now… every week I inject…

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    4 months ago

    Humaria has worked very well for many of our members. I hope it helps you as well. It is a wonderful medication and even better since the a the formula was changed to remove the citrate buffers a few months ago.

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