WHAT ARE SPINE INFECTIONS?
These rare cases of disease refer to infestation of bacteria in the intervertebral disks, the vertebral bones, the spinal canal or adjacent soft tissues. Discitis refers to an infection of the intervertebral disk while osteomyelitis refers to infection of the vertebral bone. These infections can be caused by bacteria or fungi, viruses or may even occur after a spinal procedure or surgery.
In general, infections are caused due to bacteria spreading to the spine through the bloodstream. If the bacteria infect the vertebral disk, the condition is called discitis in which the disk space degenerates. The infection may then spread to the bones, called osteomyelitis. The bone, weakened by this infection may cause fracture and crumbling of the bone. Symptoms usually start with a localized tenderness in the back or neck which worsens with movement and is unable to be treated with conservative methods. Overall symptoms may include general fever and unexplained weight loss.
COMMON SPINE INFECTION: TB SPINE
it has been noted that the spine is the most common and most dangerous site of skeletal tuberculosis and since tuberculosis is a fairly common disease in India, prevalence of Spine TB is quite high. This infection usually starts in the anterior part of the disk and spreads to the adjoining vertebra, which results in a collapse of the spine and presence of a kyphotic angulation. The shape and degree of kyphosis depends on the intensity and number of vertebrae that are infected. The initial symptom for this disease in severe back pain and initial clinical finding is kyphosis. After a few weeks, pus formed in this area may move between the tissue spaces to accumulate in unexpected areas, like just above the posts muscle in the abdomen. This condition is sometimes referred to as Pott disease. One of the most deadly symptoms of this disease include paraplegia (paralysis of all four limbs).
WHAT IS A SPINE TUMOR?
Spinal tumor refers to an abnormal growth of cells in and around the spinal column. Tumors that begin in the spinal tissue are called primary cancers and those that are derived from cancers already present in other organs such as the lungs, breasts or liver are known as secondary cancers. The cause of these spinal tumors is unknown but some recent research points the finger towards genetics. According to the location of the tumor, it can occur inside the spinal chord, in the membranes covering the spinal chord or even between these membranes and the bone of the spinal canal. Common symptoms of spinal tumors include abnormal sensations in the leg, worsening back pain over time, loss of muscle function and inability to keep urine from leaking. If the symptoms are progressing very fast, it is important to be aggressive with the treatment as well.