What's the treatment for transverse myelitis?
There is no specific treatment for transverse myelitis. The prognosis for complete recovery from transverse myelitis is generally not good. Although recovery usually begins between 2 and 12 weeks after onset and may continue for up to 2 years, most individuals are left with considerable disability. Some individuals may have minor or no deficits, while others
may have significant motor, sensory, and sphincter (bowel) deficits or no recovery at all.
The standard treatment is with high doses of corticosteroids. With this treatment, about half the people with transverse myelitis will recover within six months. Another promising therapy is plasma exchange. In one study, those with transverse myelitis who didn't respond to steroids were treated with a two-week course of plasma exchange within the first three months after onset of the condition. Forty percent of study participants showed dramatic recovery with the plasma exchange treatment.
Physical adaptations include learning to cope with bowel and bladder control, sexuality, inability to control muscles (spasticity), mobility, pain, and activities of daily living (such as dressing). As nerve impulses from the spinal cord are often scrambled and misinterpreted by the brain as pain, painkillers are given to ease discomfort. Antidepressants or anticonvulsants may also help.
The prognosis depends on how much of the cord was damaged. Some people recover completely, while others have lasting problems and need help in learning how to cope with activities of daily living. People who develop spastic reflexes early in the course of the condition are more likely to recover than those who do not. If spinal cord tissue death (necrosis) occurs, the chance of a complete recovery is poor. Most recovery occurs within the first three months. A certain percentage of patients with TM will go on to develop multiple sclerosis.
More information on transverse myelitis
What's transverse myelitis? - Transverse myelitis (TM) is an uncommon neurological syndrome caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, characterized by weakness, back pain, and bowel and bladder problems.
What's acute transverse myelitis? - Acute transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, the fatty insulating substance that covers nerve cells fibers.
What causes transverse myelitis? - Transverse myelitis may be caused by viral infections, spinal cord injuries, immune disorders or insufficient blood flow through the blood vessels in the spinal cord.
What're the symptoms of transverse myelitis? - Transverse myelitis can cause low back pain, spinal cord dysfunction, muscle spasms, headache, loss of appetite, and numbness or tingling in the legs.
How is transverse myelitis diagnosed? - A doctor will suspect transverse myelitis in any patient with a rapid onset of paralysis. Blood tests may be performed.
What's the treatment for transverse myelitis? - There is no specific treatment for transverse myelitis. The standard treatment is with high doses of corticosteroids. Another promising therapy is plasma exchange.