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Whole-body therapy at -110° C in ankylosing spondylitis

Whole-body therapy at -110° C in ankylosing spondylitis


Twenty patients with ankylosing spondylitis received in-patient treatment over 28 days with daily physiotherapy and additional daily whole-body cryotherapy.

The control group comprised ten patients with ankylosing spondylitis who received in-patient treatment over 28 days with daily physiotherapy and additional daily thermotherapy.

Furthermore, 10 additional out-patients showing symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis were examined before and after an average of 36 days regarding their activity indexes (objective and subjective parameter, see below). After 28 days of therapy, the two in-patient groups showed a statistically significant decrease of the disease activity (p=0.0001, p=0.0050). In contrast, the out-patient group showed statistically significant changes of the activity index (p=1.0000) over an average period of 36 days.

After 28 days of whole-body therapy in hospital, the decrease of the overall disease activity was significantly higher as compared to a 4-week hospital treatment with thermotherapy. After therapy, the objective disease activity criteria (general limited range of motion, moveability of the individual vertebral regions, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, haemoglobin value, general medical diagnosis) showed significant improvements (p=0.0009, p=0.0196) in the in-patient groups.

After WBCT, significant functional improvements (p=0.003, p=0.0019, p=0.0124) were observed in all three vertebral regions.

In contrast, significant functional improvements after thermotherapy were only observed with respect to the thoracic spine function (p=0.0235).

Functional improvements in the region of the cervical spine were significant larger after WBCT as compared to the functional diagnosis of the cervical spine after thermotherapy.

After 28 days of treatment, the in-patient group with daily whole-body cryotherapy showed a statistically significant improvement (p=0.0002) of subjective complaints (morning stiffness, abnormal fatigue, joint pain as well as subjective discomfort). In contrast, no statistically significant improvement of subjective complaints was observed either in the in-patient group with additional daily thermotherapy nor in the out-patient group (p=0.1025, p=0.0588).

The results of the present study suggest an independent effect of daily long-term cold chamber therapy.

According to our findings, whole-body cryotherapy is of particular therapeutic importance to the required combination therapy of ankylosing spondylitis.

J. Wichmann
Rheumatology clinic, St.-Josef-Stift, Sendenhorst,
Dept. of rheumatology, Weserland clinic, Vlotho, Bad Seebruch, D-32602 Vlotho

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