Tatiana Golovin returns from ankylosing spondylitis

The former tennis champion, suffering from this inflammatory rheumatism, will resume the competition. Physical exercise can reduce pain, but studies are still lacking to clarify its benefits.

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10,000 steps and more. At 31, after eleven years of retirement, the tennis player Tatiana Golovin returns to the circuit. In her first match, on 12 October, in qualifying for the Luxembourg tournament, she lost to Slovenia's Kaja Juvan (134).e world), however, opposing "Beautiful resistance" according to the newspaper L'Equipe. For those who remember the interruption of their career, at the age of 20, in a context of recurring back pain, it is a surprise.

For sufferers like the old 12e World player of ankylosing spondylitis, it is a strong symbol. "When I stopped playing, in 2008, I thought it was definitive. Today, I live quietly with my illness. I see people much more in trouble than me, and I want to bring them a message of hope, she testified during a workshop on physical activity and "spondy", as part of an event organized in Paris on October 5 by the Novartis laboratory, with two patient associations.

Russian-born French player Tatiana Golovin in a match against Justine Henin in Zurich on October 21, 2007.
Russian-born French player Tatiana Golovin in a match against Justine Henin in Zurich on October 21, 2007. MICHELE LIMINA / AFP

Most often appearing between 20 and 30 years of age, this inflammatory rheumatism mainly affects the spine and the pelvis. It can also affect the peripheral joints, especially the heels. The pains, which occur by outbreaks, are accompanied by fatigue. The evolution can be done to ankylosis of the joints concerned, with stiffness; a much less frequent possibility since the diagnosis and management are earlier. Ankylosing spondylitis has been renamed axonal spondyloarthropathy, says rheumatologist Stephan Pavy, present at the workshop. The less progressive forms, minor, seem more common in women.

Low back pain daily

This is apparently the case of Tatiana Golovin, in whom spondyloarthritis was mainly manifested by low back pain during her sport, without any embarrassment on a daily basis. At the time, she had preferred to end her career, not wanting "Take the risks of daily treatments", She says.

Is sport, and more generally physical activity (PA), deleterious or otherwise beneficial in this rheumatic disease? "For a long time, doctors have been rather cautious in ankylosing spondylitis and even more so in rheumatoid arthritis, fearing that physical activity will accentuate joint destruction. Today, the data on this subject is reassuring and the advice is rather: if you do not hurt, do what you want ", summarizes Yannick Guillodo. For this doctor specializing in sports traumatology (CHU Brest), it is up to the main stakeholders to regulate themselves, choosing an activity they like and taking as a barometer the pain at the time, and the day after practice.


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