Back pain is a common ailment. Young people in particular do not attach great importance to this. But with them, the pain can be a symptom of a serious illness: ankylosing spondylitis. And that can only be clearly diagnosed by a specialist.
Muscles and ligaments, nerves and vertebrae: back pain can have many causes. Almost every third German regularly suffers from lower back pain. If the pain is persistent, we use a warming plaster or get an injection from the family doctor. And we plan to lift properly in the future, to ensure correct posture, to do gymnastics or finally to buy a new mattress.
In fact, many sufferers deal with their back pain negligently. Younger people often take them lightly - after all, lower back pain is often the receipt for incorrect lifting or one-sided strain. And when office workers stare motionless at a screen for a long time, the neck can sting.
Back pain can be divided into radicular and pseudoradicular pain. With radicular back pain, a nerve is usually irritated.
Since back pain can have many everyday causes, it is a non-specific symptom - and this is what makes the situation so treacherous when ankylosing spondylitis is the cause. This inflammatory rheumatic disease usually begins between the ages of 20 and 40 and mainly affects the spine.
Side effects are severe nocturnal pain in the lower spine area, a stinging in the neck and limited mobility, especially in the morning. A malfunction in the body leads to inflammatory processes that cause ossification in the axial skeleton - i.e. in the spine, in the chest and between the ribs. The body becomes more immobile and the joints stiffen.
The disease often begins in the pelvis in the sacrum-iliac joints and manifests itself as pain in the buttocks, especially when sitting for a long time. The pain can spread to the back of the thighs. The hips, knees and ankles can also hurt and swell, usually on one side.
Because of the unspecific symptoms, sufferers often have to go a long way before being diagnosed. This is compounded by the fact that ankylosing spondylitis has a wide range of symptoms, such as inflammation of the eyes or - less often - of the lungs, heart, intestines or skin.
But since they fall into the specialties of different doctors and are not seen in context, it is often not inferred that Bechterew's disease is the common cause. It is therefore not uncommon for it to take six to eight years for the disease to be clearly identified. However, an early diagnosis is crucial in order to be able to combat the symptoms permanently and effectively.
The diagnosis by the specialist can only be as good as the information about the complaints allows him to do. The orthopedic surgeon will take a closer look at the statics of the body and the mechanics of the musculoskeletal system - just right for classic back pain caused by incorrect posture, tension and heavy lifting. Bechterew's disease as a rheumatic-inflammatory disease falls within the field of rheumatologists. And the detailed description of other illnesses or symptoms that are perceived as strange puts him on the right track.
If you have lower back pain on a regular basis without having an explanation, you should keep a detailed record of this and supplement this with information on general wellbeing. Insomnia and fatigue can also indicate ankylosing spondylitis. The more precisely the rheumatologist can understand the individual medical history, the more precise his diagnosis will be.
In many cases, targeted back training is a successful means of relieving back pain.
In the past, the fate of ankylosing spondylitis patients was mapped out: the incurable disease led to an extremely crooked back and severely restricted mobility. However, the use of so-called biologicals can stop the development of inflammatory processes and the resulting ossification of the axial skeleton.
In combination with regular physical activity, such treatment enables patients to lead an active and happy life. However, the prerequisite is the early detection of Bechterew's disease. If left untreated, the inflammation can lead to permanent damage to the spine. If you have recurring back pain and joint stiffness in the morning, you should therefore seek advice from a rheumatologist.