What Is Transverse Myelitis?

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Transverse myelitis is an inflammatory condition that occurs in the spinal column along a single section. The inflammation interrupts the signals between the brain, the nerves along the impacted section of the spinal cord and the connecting nerves in other areas of the body, leading to painful and debilitating symptoms.

This disorder can affect those of any gender, age or race. However, people between the ages of 10 and 19 are more prone to get the disorder, as are those between the ages of 30 and 39. There does not appear to be a genetic factor involved, and it does not run in families. Within the United States, approximately 1,400 people are diagnosed with the condition each year.

1. Transverse Myelitis Causes: Infections

The precise causes for transverse myelitis are unknown, though there are numerous associated factors. Infections from bacteria, viruses and, rarely, fungi have all been linked to the condition. Bacterial connections include syphilis, Lyme disease, tuberculosis, tetanus and diphtheria. On occasion, those who contract gastroenteritis and bacterial pneumonia also get the disorder.

A wide range of viral infections are linked to transverse myelitis. People who get shingles or chicken pox, along with other types of herpes viruses, are more likely to get the disorder, as are those who get hepatitis B and enteroviruses. Influenza, West Nile and Zika are commonly linked to the condition as well.

Transverse Myelitis

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