Kashin-Beck Disease

Kashin-Beck Disease in English

Medical Words

Kaschin-Beck disease, also known by the synonyms Cashing-Beck disease or Kaschin-Beck syndrome, affects approximately three million people worldwide. It is a non-contagious and non-inflammatory disease of the joints and bones. The name derives from its two discoverers, the physician Nikolai Ivanovich Kashin and the scientist Melinda A. Beck.

What is Kashin-Beck disease?

The diagnosis is made based on the symptoms. An x-ray is also usually taken for visual inspection.

Kashin-Beck disease is the name of a disease that affects the skeletal system and all joints. The consequences are characterized by deformities in the legs and arms. It is mainly distributed in eastern Siberia, northern China and Tibet. What is characteristic here is the special regional concentration, which is often limited to individual, smaller areas. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Kashin-Beck Disease.

By far the most recorded cases are in Transbaikalia and Tibet, often near rivers or lakes. Men and women are equally affected by the condition. Kaschin-Beck disease is particularly common in children and adolescents who are in the rapid growth phase.

In the process, articular cartilage is regressed due to a malfunction in the body. The disease is chronic and has not yet been completely cured. Untreated Kaschin-Beck disease can have a negative impact on life expectancy. Those affected are often unable to work and therefore live in poor conditions. Animals can also get the syndrome.


The exact causes of Kaschin-Beck disease are not yet fully known, but a lack of selenium and some other minerals probably plays an important role. The formation of bone tissue is inhibited by these deficiency symptoms. Some toxic substances are also being discussed as a possible cause of the outbreak.

An example of such a toxin is the mold Fusarium sporotrichoides. Since the Kaschin-Beck disease is almost always concentrated in individual regions in its spread, an imbalance of trace elements in drinking water and soil is also a possible trigger. Extraordinarily high proportions of manganese, iron and strontium were measured in the water in the regions concerned . Other environmental influences are also assumed to be indirect causes.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of Kaschin-Beck disease can vary depending on the age of the affected person and the duration of their illness. In children around the age of four to six years, deformities of the joints occur that are remarkably symmetrical. Occasionally, increased bleeding may occur. Short stature may also be present.

Very early symptoms can be stiffness, but also repeated cramps and pain in the calves, fingers, spine and all muscles. Pain and cramps appear more frequently in the evening or at night. With advanced degrees of severity of Kaschin-Beck disease, there is also a loss of appetite, a wrinkled skin surface, heart pain and increasing headaches. Brittle fingernails and dull hair are also signs of the disease.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the symptoms mentioned. An x-ray is also usually taken for visual inspection. A differential diagnosis provides even more certainty about the patient’s condition. The individual symptoms are compared with the symptoms of similar diseases.

Since the disease can go unnoticed for a long time, it is advisable to carry out a thorough medical examination at the first sign. There are three different degrees of severity of Kaschin-Beck disease: During the first, only limited thickening of individual joints on fingers and toes is usually visible. Those affected feel only moderate pain when these joints are loaded.

With the 2nd degree of severity, the mobility and resilience of the affected body parts are additionally restricted and deformations and thickening increase. The third and at the same time most severe stage of the disease manifests itself in a drastic inhibition of growth and very severe deformations that can occur anywhere on the body.

Patients in this stage are almost always very short in stature. Kaschin-Beck disease progresses most rapidly during the growth phases between the ages of four and six.

When should you go to the doctor?

Persistent problems in the joints and bones should be examined by a doctor. If the affected person suffers from impairments for several days or weeks, this is unusual. Medical tests must be carried out to clarify the cause. A doctor should be consulted in the event of deformities of the skeletal system, disorders of mobility or general movement options, or a loss of normal performance. If the symptoms occur in people who are in Tibet, Siberia or northern China, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Since the disease occurs regionally, visitors and residents of this region are particularly at risk. Articular cartilage complaints are a warning sign and the first sign of an existing irregularity. Since the disease without timely medical care leads to lifelong impairments, inability to work and a reduction in general life expectancy, a doctor’s visit is necessary. In the case of short stature, an increased tendency to bleed, cramps and pain in the bones and joints, a doctor’s visit is required.

If the irregularities spread over the entire body, medical care must take place. A doctor is also needed for brittle nails, headaches or loss of appetite. Heart pain and changes in the quality of the hair on the head are other signs of a disorder that need to be investigated.

Treatment & Therapy

It is still not possible to completely cure Kashin-Beck disease. However, the progression of the disease can be successfully delayed with timely and correct therapy. Treatment should be started as early as possible, as this is where the chances of improvement are highest.

There are various therapy options to choose from, such as massage, remedial gymnastics or numerous biological stimulants. Calcium and phosphorus can help reduce pain and increase the patient’s mobility. Treatment with selenium, on the other hand, often does not bring about any improvements in the patient’s state of health after the onset of the disease.

Another possibility is surgical correction of the affected parts of the body. Such interventions have already been successfully carried out by Chinese orthopaedists and can provide relief and more mobility for those affected.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of Kashin-Beck disease is unfavorable. To this day, scientists and researchers have not been able to develop a sufficient therapy option that leads to a cure. The cause of the disruption has not yet been fully clarified. Consequently, doctors treat the symptoms of the person concerned and use individual treatment methods.

Almost all patients have a selenium deficiency. An attempt is made to compensate for this. As a result, most of those affected experience relief from their symptoms and their general condition begins to stabilize. In addition, surgical procedures are used for malpositions or other deformities of the skeletal system. The aim is to improve the quality of life so that the mental stress decreases and the possibilities of coping with everyday life are improved. The procedures are associated with risks and side effects. Operations are not always without further complications. Complications can occur. Rehabilitation measures are also necessary.

Patients with Kaschin-Beck disease must undergo lifelong therapy. Regular checks are necessary so that changes and abnormalities can be reacted to quickly. Overall, the disease represents an immense challenge for those affected and their families due to the large number of impairments. Mobility is restricted and, despite all efforts, cannot be improved to a natural level.


As a preventive measure and for prevention, numerous methods can be considered. However, these depend on the region in which the patient is located. A good supply of selenium and other elements that are not sufficiently available is one of the first and most important steps.

Any vitamin or calcium deficiencies should be corrected as soon as possible. As a last safe precaution, children and adolescents of appropriate age may be placed under medical observation. In some areas with a particularly large number of cases of Kaschin-Beck disease, special children’s clinics are available for this purpose.


In most cases, those affected with Kaschin-Beck disease do not have any special aftercare options, as the disease often cannot be completely cured. First and foremost, a diagnosis should be made as early as possible so that no further complications can occur.

As soon as the first signs and symptoms of the disease appear, a doctor should be consulted to prevent the symptoms from getting worse. In many cases, the treatment itself takes the form of physiotherapy or physiotherapy. In some cases, the exercises from these therapies can be repeated at home, which may speed up healing.

Taking various medications or supplements can also have a positive effect on the further course of the disease. However, the correct dosage and the regular intake of these funds must always be observed. Furthermore, those affected by Kashin-Beck disease often need the support and help of their families. This can also alleviate or prevent possible psychological complaints. As a rule, Kaschin-Beck disease does not reduce the life expectancy of the affected person.

You can do that yourself

People with Kashin-Beck disease cannot be cured. The currently best approaches to alleviation are on the one hand an iodine-rich diet and physiotherapy in order to be able to continue to move the limbs flexibly.

These two approaches should also be considered in everyday life. The disease seems to progress more slowly with appropriate iodine-rich food such as haddock, pollock, plaice, mussels, cod, tuna, spinachor rye bread, the disease seems to progress more slowly. Through stretching exercises, those affected describe having less pain in everyday life and the illness becomes more bearable. These should initially be instructed by a specially trained physiotherapist, but should then be included in the daily routine. daily

Although the disease is caused by a selenium deficiency according to current knowledge, no improvement can be achieved by later selenium substitution. This self-treatment should be avoided. Kashin-Beck disease is common in specific regions and has a very high prevalence rate (up to 50 percent) there. It should therefore be mentioned here that an important aspect of everyday life with the disease should be the prevention of individuals who are not yet affected. This can happen especially through a balanced diet in infancy.

Kashin-Beck Disease