World Rheumatism Day
When can back pain also be a sign of rheumatism?
Rheumatism is not just a disease of old age. On World Rheumatism Day, rheumatologist Dr. Klemm, which form particularly affects young people.
Many people associate rheumatism with an illness of old age. But rheumatism has many faces and affects all generations: “It is a misconception that rheumatism only affects older people. Rheumatism can occur at any age. A common form of rheumatism is axial spondyloarthritis, also known as ankylosing spondylitis, which affects mainly younger people People between the ages of 20 and 40 get sick, “explains Dr. Philipp Klemm from the rheumatism center of the Kerckhoff Clinic in Bad Nauheim.
When the back hurts but the intervertebral disc isn’t to blame
ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory rheumatic disease that particularly affects the vertebrae in the pelvic area. This results in pain, which is initially often misunderstood as lumbago or intervertebral disc problems. “The main symptom is deep-seated back pain in the lumbar spine and pelvic area that occurs before the age of 45, which is particularly severe in the early morning night and gets better with movement,” explains the rheumatologist. A characteristic sign is also the so-called morning stiffness: After waking up, the back is stiff and immobile for at least 30 minutes – here too, movement begins to improve.
“Unfortunately, it often takes an average of several years until the disease is diagnosed. This is in turn due to the fact that younger people in particular do not think of an inflammation at first. That is why I advise everyone who suffers from chronic deep-seated back pain at a young age to take them seriously and to have them clarified at an early stage, “recommends Dr. Clamp.
The right treatment prevents long-term damage and maintains quality of life
But before the right therapy can be started, the right diagnosis is needed first: “After taking the medical history and examining it, a blood test can help clarify whether there is a genetic predisposition, which is the case in around 90 percent of those affected,” he says Rheumatism expert. While the inflammatory changes in the vertebrae can already be seen in the course of the x-ray, this is unfortunately not the case in the early stages: “In these cases, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short, provides the evidence.”
Once the diagnosis has been made, the right therapy can help contain the inflammation in the vertebral bodies and counteract permanent stiffening. In addition to anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, physiotherapy is an important pillar of treatment. “If there is no relief, so-called biologics can be prescribed,” explains Dr. Clamp. “These intercept certain messenger substances in the body and thus reduce the overall inflammation in the body.”
It is therefore worthwhile to persistently look for the correct diagnosis in the case of chronic back pain and not to ignore the possibility of a rheumatic disease. Because only one tailor-made therapy brings relief and thus increases the quality of life.