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Transverse myelitis: symptoms, treatment, sequelae

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Talking about transverse myelitis generates a lot of concern since it is a subject that is not talked about much, and the vast majority do not know what it is. Transverse myelitis is a disease related to the spinal cord and generates symptoms such as pain and muscle weakness that can be present in a person throughout their life. Inflammation of the spinal cord is the main feature of transverse myelitis due to disorders directly related to the nervous system. In FastlyHealand, we will talk more in-depth about transverse myelitis: symptoms, treatments, and sequelae.

What is transverse myelitis, and what are its symptoms?

Transverse myelitis can be defined as an inflammatory disorder of the spinal cord; this inflammatory process generates damage to a fatty substance that covers nerve fibers called myelin.

The spinal cord receives and transmits all the messages of the nervous system; that is, it receives from different areas of the body and transfers to the brain centers through nerve terminals that the medulla contains; myelin is the substance in charge of isolating axons and transmitting all the impulses between neurons satisfactorily.

The main symptoms of transverse myelitis can evolve in hours, days, or weeks. Here are the symptoms of transverse myelitis :

  • Low back pain can be localized by the patient. In reality, most of the time, this is the main symptom by which transverse myelitis can be diagnosed or detected, the pain is intense and stabbing in the lumbar region or the lower part of the back, and it can spread to the legs and other parts of the body depending on the medullary portion affected.
  • I feel burning, tingling, or tingling in the legs product medullary condition that occurs.
  • Partial numbness of the legs or lower limbs, in this case, we can speak of muscle weakness that causes a feeling of heaviness in the lower limbs, also triggering a partial paralysis of the legs in which there is difficulty walking even extending weakness in the arms.
  • Paralysis of the legs and lower part of the trunk due to the progression of muscle weakness in the legs; this is medically called paraparesis if it is a partial paralysis or paraplegia if it is complete paralysis.
  • There are cases where sensory alterations can occur where numbness, tingling, and sensitivity to cold or heat, especially in the genital legs and trunk, are manifested.

Other symptoms that can be associated with transverse myelitis are the following:

  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Urinary urgency.
  • Urinary retention

Causes of transverse myelitis

Although the cause is not well defined, the causes of transverse myelitis may be related to:

  • Infectious process: closely related to parasitic and bacterial viral agents, among which the herpes virus and Lyme disease stand out, in addition to chickenpox and cytomegalovirus. Also related to this infectious process, syphilis, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis stand out.
  • Autoimmune process: there are several pathologies of autoimmune origin whose leading characteristic clinic is the partial or total destruction of the substance that covers the nerve fibers, myelin. Multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and optic neuromyelitis stand out among them.

Treatment of transverse myelitis

Once evaluated by the doctor and carried out the previous studies, which are the cerebrospinal fluid (lumbar puncture) and magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, other diseases that could be related to the compression of the spinal cord, such as abscess, will be ruled out. Epidurals, herniated or displaced discs, neoplasms, or hematoma.

Treatment previously indicated by the doctor can be started, which usually consists of drug therapy and physical rehabilitation to improve muscle strength and avoid severe complications.

The treatment of transverse myelitis consists practically of administering intravenous corticosteroids, including dexamethasone and methylprednisolone, a recommended dose of 30 mg/kg/day for five consecutive days and continuing with oral steroid administration for approximately five weeks to reduce the inflammatory process of the spinal cord. If the treatment is not satisfactory, a plasmapheresis therapy can be started, a process by which the blood plasma is extracted and replaced by special fluids.

Logically, the treatment will depend on the cause that caused the transverse myelitis, so antiviral drugs, analgesic drugs, or other types of medication may be included depending on the pathology or disease that triggered this inflammation of the spinal cord.

Physical therapy improves muscle strength by avoiding assistive devices such as crutches, canes, and wheelchairs.

Transverse myelitis: sequelae

Finally, if it is not diagnosed and treated in time, transverse myelitis can leave severe complications for those who suffer, especially if there is no improvement within the first six months. Pain is one of them, but in addition to being a symptom of this disease, it is a lasting complication for the patient.

Another possible sequela is that the patient suffers from spasticity, stiff, spasmodic and tense muscles commonly related to the lower limbs (legs) and buttocks.

It is also likely that in the case of men, there is difficulty in having an erection; even in both sexes, there may be problems having orgasms.

In addition to this, psychological problems are associated that can trigger depression or anxiety due to all the body changes after the manifestation of transverse myelitis and what it means to live with it, endure pain and even have problems with sexual life.

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, in a published article on a clinical case about transverse myelitis with Sjögren’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus, describes that approximately [1] :

  • 50% of patients have a complete recovery.
  • 29% have a partial recovery.
  • 21% do not improve or worsen with sequelae in gait disturbance, urinary symptoms, and even death.

There should be no doubt about this issue; if you manifest some of the symptoms indicated, go immediately to the doctor; most complications can be prevented if the diseases are treated correctly and at the correct time.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Transverse myelitis: symptoms, treatment, sequelae , we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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