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What is Tuberculosis of the Spine?

Tuberculosis of the Spine
Tuberculosis (TB) mainly affects the lungs and it is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can also affect other parts of the body including the spine. Tuberculosis of the spine is also known as

tuberculosis spondylitis

or

Pott’s disease

. Early detection and vaccination help in preventing or reducing the complications. Though its incidence is higher in developing countries, the number of Americans being affected with this condition is rising. The primary cause for this can be attributed to a weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In this article, we provide more information about tuberculosis of the spine. Read on to know more.

What are the Symptoms?

The most common symptoms of spinal tuberculosis are:

  • Back pain
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Imbalance and
  • Paralysis (in extreme cases)

If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Does the TB virus cause Damage to the Spine?

Yes, as the virus spreads to the spine and causes damage. The vertebrae collapses and the bones in the spine can get fractured. Further damage is caused by the formation of abscesses and tissues which restrict the spinal canal leading to neurological damage.

How is it Diagnosed?

Tuberculosis of the spine can be diagnosed using several tests. The complete medical history of a patient is examined by the doctor. Neurological tests are done and the range of motion in spine is observed. Blood tests, X-rays, MRI scans and bone scans are also carried out to confirm the presence of the TB virus.

What are the Treatment Options?

The kind of treatment suggested for spinal tuberculosis may differ from person to person. It depends on many factors like age of the affected person, general health, severity of pain and response to medications. Along with medications, the patient is also required to take adequate rest and vitamin supplements.

Spinal exercises are a part of the recovery program and some patients may require a back brace. If the damage to the spine is extensive, the spinal surgery is the last resort. A majority of patients
respond well to medications and other treatment. Spinal surgery is not required in most of the cases.

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