Treatment methods

Tailored therapy to positively control the progression of the disease

Although ankylosing spondylitis is not curable, it can usually be treated to a certain degree. We use therapeutic applications such as physiotherapy, movement exercises and physical treatments, as well as the differentiated use of medication, to positively influence the course of your illness. The goal of our ankylosing spondylitis treatment is to maintain the mobility of your spine and joints and prevent inflammation-related damage and stiffening. To achieve this, it is also necessary for you to train yourself to consistently manage your symptoms. It is also helpful to give up smoking.

A surgical operation may be necessary, but only in the case of severe damage to the joints and spine.

Conservative treatment methods

Physiotherapy and movement exercises

Movement keeps you moving! A well-planned course of movement therapy and postural control is therefore an integral part of any ankylosing spondylitis therapy. We recommend adopting an active daily routine, walking often and cycling. Daily physiotherapy sessions at home and breathing exercises are also important components of the therapy. Additional group therapy under physiotherapeutic guidance has proven beneficial. Physiotherapy or active movement exercises can help to maintain or improve your posture and the flexibility of your spine and joints. Their benefits include stretching shortened muscles, strengthening your musculature and relieving your pain. They may also be able to prevent the decrease in bone density that often occurs due to chronic inflammation and reduced loading of the stiffened spinal segments as a result of inactivity.

Medicinal ankylosing spondylitis therapy

We use certain medications (for example, NSAR agents, possibly also glucocorticoids) in order to inhibit inflammatory reactions and relieve pain and stiffness. These help to relieve pain, maintain mobility and typically prevent the onset of more severe symptoms.

In addition, there are some special preparations that can modulate the disease in the long term (for example, MTX and sulfasalazine). With other special drugs (TNF alpha inhibitors) we can affect the basic causes of inflammation in the early stages of very severe cases. A corresponding consultation with and support from a specialist rheumatologist is therefore extremely important when choosing the appropriate medicinal therapy.

Physical ankylosing spondylitis therapy

Heat mitigates pain and stiffness. To this end, we use warm baths, electrotherapy, infrared therapy and massages. A fango or mud pack as well as thermal baths can also help. We also use a "galvanic bath" — a tub filled with water through which direct current is passed. This boosts your circulation and metabolism while at the same time disrupting nerve conduction, lessening your pain. During periods of acute flare-ups, cold treatments can also help.

Surgical treatment methods

Surgical treatment for ankylosing spondylitis

Generally, surgery is rarely used in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, however in severe cases it can be a very useful (and ultimately the only) option. 

In advanced stages of the disease, in which patients may experience increasing or even complete ossification and malposition of the spine, the stiffening of the back greatly impairs the patient's movement. This misalignment can be corrected surgically by our experienced specialists without excessive risk.

Fractures within the stiffened spine also pose a high risk of neurological complications and therefore require surgical intervention.

Chronic inflammation can also destroy or severely damage the affected joints. This mostly affects the hip joints. In such cases, the therapy may include a joint replacement. 

Surgical procedures: 

  • In case of instability or fractures of the spine: immobilisation and reinforcement of the corresponding spinal segment 
  • In case of strong curvature of the spine (for example, if eye contact with other people is no longer possible): straightening and fixation of the vertebrae to restore an upright posture 
  • In case of increasing stiffening and curvature of the spine (kyphosis): a "wedge osteotomy", whereby the stiffened spine is fixed in an upright position with corresponding spinal implants after removal of a bony wedge
  • In case of increasing destruction of the hip joints: insertion of an artificial hip joint (hip TEP)