Transverse myelitis is inflammation of one part of the spinal cord. The condition is characterized by pain, numbness, weak limbs or arms, as well as impaired urination and bowel defecation.
The cause of transverse myelitis has not been known definitively until now. However, the condition is thought to be triggered by several things, such as infections or immune system disorders.
People with transverse myelitis can generally recover and can return to normal walking. But in severe cases, sufferers can experience permanent paralysis, so it is necessary to be assisted in daily activities.
Transverse Myelitis Symptoms
Symptoms of transverse myelitis include:
Pain in the lower back that appears suddenly.
The condition can spread to other parts, such as to the chest, abdomen, or limbs, depending on the affected part of the spinal cord.
The sensation disorder, such as feeling like burning, tingling, cold, or numbness. Some sufferers feel sensitive to clothing friction, hot or cold temperature
The arms and limbs feel weak.
Some sufferers even walk by dragging their feet or have paralysis.
Bowel movement disorder
Bowel movement disorder, such as constipation or difficulty urinating. Or vice versa, it becomes frequent urinating or unable to withstand urination (urinary incontinence).
Transverse Myelitis Causes
Experts do not know the exact cause of transverse myelitis. Inflammation that causes transverse myelitis can occur as a side effect of a number of other conditions, including:
- Lyme disease
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections.
Some people may also get transverse myelitis due to spinal injuries, spinal defects, or vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, all of which can reduce the amount of oxygen in spinal cord tissue.
If part of the spinal cord does not have enough oxygen, nerve cells often begin to die. Dying tissue can cause inflammation leading to transverse myelitis.
Transverse myelitis can also be a warning sign of multiple sclerosis, but this is rare. Since some people with transverse myelitis have autoimmune diseases such as lupus, some doctors believe that transverse myelitis can also be an autoimmune disease. Finally, some cancers can trigger an immune response that leads to transverse myelitis.
Transverse Myelitis Diagnosis
Diagnosis of transverse myelitis will be based on the disease history, signs and symptoms of the disease, clinical assessment of nerve function, and several other examinations. The examination can indicate inflammation of the spinal cord and rule out the possibility of other disorders.
There are several checks that can be done to ensure transverse myelitis, among others:
Examination of the body’s nerves
A complete and thorough examination of the body’s nerves, including a history of viral and bacterial infections.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an examination with radio waves that produces a three-dimensional image to see the state of the brain, spinal cord. An MRI of the spine will almost always confirm the presence of lesions or inflammation of the spinal cord, while an MRI of the brain can provide clues to underlying causes, such as multiple sclerosis, given that transverse myelitis can attack both the spinal cord and brain.
Blood tests to get rid of other disorders, such as HIV infection or vitamin B12 deficiency. Blood tests are also carried out to determine the presence of antibodies associated with neuromyelitis optica and also to find out the possible causes of the symptoms that arise that lead to transverse myelitis.
Spinal tap, which is a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that cover the brain and spine) by placing a needle between the two spines. This is because some people with transverse myelitis have a higher protein content and an increased number of white blood cells in their cerebrospinal fluid. This examination is important to identify or get rid of the infection that is the cause.