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Inflammation and pain: ankylosing spondylitis also affects women


It has been known since yesterday: actress Christine Neubauer suffers from ankylosing spondylitis. The rheumatic disease, which leads to stiffening of the spine, initially shows itself, as with the actress, mostly through back pain and is therefore often overlooked.

For a long time, Bechterew's disease was also considered a typical “male disease”. However, it is now known that it affects women to the same extent. With them, however, the stiffening is slower. That's why Bechterew's disease is simply overlooked more often in women. However, this is fatal because early treatment has a positive effect on the course of the disease. In addition to medication, rheumatologists treat the painful disease with alternative healing methods such as therapies in radon thermal tunnels.

The number of unreported cases among women with ankylosing spondylitis is very high. Experts estimate that about every third or even every second affected woman knows nothing about the disease. “Pain in the lumbar and buttocks region, which often occurs at night and in the morning, is a typical sign,” says Univ.-Doz. Dr. Bertram Hölzl, Bechterew expert and scientific director of the Gastein Heilstollen. "In addition, morning stiffness in the limbs, which decreases with movement, and pain that worsens during periods of rest, speak for ankylosing spondylitis." Sometimes the symptoms are accompanied by chronic fatigue and slowly progressive stiffening of the spine.

The cause seems to be a malfunction of the immune system, in which the body's own defense cells migrate into the tissue and trigger inflammatory reactions there. "Similar causes are also the basis for the often observed concomitant diseases such as eye infections or inflammatory bowel diseases," explains Dr. Hölzl. The first symptoms often appear before the age of 45.

Inflammation makes rheumatologists visible on MRI, later spine deformities are shown on the X-ray. Experts put the therapy of Bechterew’s diseases together individually. In addition to physiotherapy, analgesic, anti-inflammatory drugs and so-called biologics, many patients have good experiences with a stay in radon thermal tunnels once a year. "Radon releases mild alpha rays in the body, which stimulate cell repair mechanisms and reduce the activity of inflammatory cells and pain relievers," reports Dr. Hölzl.

"The most effective way is radon in combination with heat." Scientific studies confirm this so-called radon heat therapy, which is offered as part of a cure, success rates between 80 and 90 percent. Radon heat therapy brings about a significant reduction in pressure pain waves, pain intensity, functional restrictions and medication consumption. Otherwise, lots of exercise, healthy eating, quitting smoking and avoiding obesity help.

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Video: Living with ankylosing spondylitis: Peters perspective (June 2021).