Transverse Myelitis What you need to know
Are you aware that many neurological disorders affect the brain? One of them is Transverse Myelitis or T.M. for short. Here is what you need to know. This article will focus on how this neurological disorder affects the sensory and motor parts of the spinal cord. For some affected people, the effects are partial, but for others, the disabilities could be significant and long-term.
What is Transverse Myelitis What you need to know?
Transverse and myelitis are two keywords for describing this illness. On the one hand, it is transverse because the dysfunction leads to changes in the pattern of sensation that occurs in the spinal cord. On the contrary, myelitis is a result of inflammation of the spinal cord. The combination of both leads to the interruption of nerve signals between the spinal cord, brain and the body.
What are Causes of Transverse Myelitis?
At present, there is no single or specific cause of transverse myelitis for now. However, then, the following factors are known to increase the chances of suffering from this disease.
- Infections – An inflammatory disorder may occur after you recover from a virus which could be bacterial, parasitic or viral.
- Examples of such viruses include enteroviruses, West Nile virus or chickenpox which starts from the spinal cord.
- Lyme can also cause painful inflammation of the nerve roots in the spinal cord while parasites may affect the spinal cord.
- Vaccinations – Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis Diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines are also able to trigger Transverse Myelitis.
- Autoimmune Disorders – Lupus and Sjogren's syndrome can cause this disease. Sjogren's syndrome causes acute dryness of the mouth and eyes while for a condition known as neuromyelitis Optica.
- Neuromyelitis Optica (Devic's disease) – This condition leads to inflammation or loss of myelin around the spinal cord. Transverse Myelitis associated with myelin of the optic nerve, temporary loss of eye vision and it usually affects the whole body.
- Vascular Disorders – Disorders such as disk embolism, intraspinal, cavernous malformations, dural arterial-venous fistula can initiate Transverse Myelitis.
What are the Symptoms of Transverse Myelitis?
This neurological disorder may either be acute or sub-acute. The severe disease usually develops over hours to several days while sub-acute disorder develops during a week and four weeks.
- Pain – It includes lower back pain, sharp pain, and sensations (shooting) around the legs, torso, and arms.
- Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction – When you use the restroom frequently, you may experience constipation and incontinence. Then it could be an indication of the disorder.
- Sexual Dysfunction – This disease can make men and women have difficulty reaching orgasm during sexual intercourse.
- Depression and Anxiety – When you observe changes that negatively affect your lifestyle, you most likely need to test for transverse myelitis.
- Paralysis – Persistent partial or total paralysis of your arms or legs may be signs of transverse myelitis.
Abnormal Sensations – If you notice unusual sensations such as excessive cold, tingling, burning, prickling and sensory loss as a result of paresthesias, get diagnosed with transverse myelitis.
How Is Transverse Myelitis Diagnosed?
- Lumbar Puncture – Also known as the spinal tap, neurologists or laboratory technicians use a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Spinal tap helps them to diagnose transverse myelitis quickly.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – This is the use of high radio waves and magnetic waves to view in three dimensions the tissues, brain and the spinal cord.
- Physical Method – Doctors may decide to use physical methods to diagnose on the first contact. Also, they may perform an initial test to rule out the symptoms of other possible causes or neurological disorders.
Transverse Myelitis Treatment
While there are various ways of treating transverse myelitis, below are some medications used to manage symptoms and process it.
- Antiviral Medications – This method helps patients infected with the virus.
- Plasma Exchange Therapy – Plasmapheresis is the removal of plasma or other antibodies that cause transverse Myelitis. The plasma is the fluid in which blood cells and antibodies suspended. These antibodies create transverse myelitis; hence, the removal helps in the treatment.
- Pain Medicines – Transverse myelitis causes nerve pain and can be treated with antidepressant drugs. These drugs help to reduce nerve pain and muscle pain. Some examples include:
- Muscle relaxants such as tizanidine, baclofen or cyclobenzaprine Anticonvulsant drugs such as pregabalin or gabapentin, Antidepressant drugs such as duloxetine.
- Intravenous Corticosteroid Drugs – This medication decreases attacks that may arise as a result of suffering from associated disorders. It also helps to reduce inflammation in the spine and swelling. Intravenous corticosteroid drugs include dexamethasone or methylprednisolone.
- Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) – IVIG received from healthy donors. They are used to reset the immune system by using robust antibodies from donors and binding them to other antibodies that cause the disorder.
There are other therapies which you could employ to treat transverse myelitis.
- Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy involves counseling by a psychotherapist purpose of handling issues, like sexual dysfunction that may arise as a result of transverse myelitis.
- Occupational Therapy – This therapy helps you adjust to changes and adopt a new lifestyle such as cooking, domestic chores bathing and managing other day-to-day activities.
Transverse Myelitis Association is a non-governmental organization dedicated to informing and supporting individuals living with transverse myelitis.
The Transverse Myelitis Association is devoted to advocating people suffering from Optica, spectrum disorder, optic neuritis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and transverse myelitis.
Pauline’s is a legacy of hope and, in her name, we will drive research forward to find a cure for rare neuro-immune disorders and enable spinal cord repair.
Are you or someone you know living with T.M – Transverse Myelitis?
I am, my daughter, diagnosed in 2009, setting into T5-T7 of her spine & I understand how terrible it can be to cope with this disorder, but there are support groups and associations that are ready to help you. You are not alone!
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