6 Common Types Of Spinal Infections

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Spinal x-ray

Spinal infections are not all that common, but there are a variety of types of spinal infections that can develop for one reason or another. Infections need to be treated appropriately by a spine specialist, otherwise severe problems can develop. Below, we take a look at some of the more common types of spinal infections and how they can affect your body.

Types Of Spinal Infections

Although these are some of the more common types of spinal infections, they are quite rare in terms of development. Some of these infections are caused by bacteria that originate in other parts of the body and travel to the area via the bloodstream, while others are caused by an infection at the surgical site or because of an injury. Here’s a closer look:

  • Discitis – Discitis is an infection that can develop from traveling bacteria through the bloodstream or following a surgery. It is categorized as an infection of the intervertebral disc space. It can lead to pain in the area, shooting pain in the arms and legs and a fever. Weeks of antibiotic therapy can help the infection clear.
  • Vertebral Osteomyelitis – This is the result of an infection of the lumbar spine and can cause symptoms similar to discitis. The bacteria that typically causes this infection is very susceptible to antibiotic treatment, so antibiotics and rest are the typical course of treatment.
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess – A spinal epidural abscess is the result of an accumulation of pus in the epidural space which can mechanically compress the spinal cord. Doctors can work to manually drain the abscess or may opt to treat it with antibiotics. Untreated, they can cause spinal weakness, tenderness and bladder or bowel issues.
  • Spinal Subdural Empyema – This type of infection involves an infection between the dura and arachnoid. This infection can spread more quickly than others, so prompt treatment of manual drainage and antibiotic therapy is recommended.
  • Meningitis – This condition is caused by swelling in the tissues around the brain and spine, and it too can spread quickly and cause complications. Treatment varies depending on the type of meningitis (viral or bacterial). Viral meningitis can sometimes resolve on its own, while bacterial meningitis is oftentimes more serious and requires antibiotics.
  • Spinal Cord Abscess – This is an infection caused by an accumulation of pus after nearby tissues are injured. This pus can put pressure on your spinal cord and lead to permanent injuries. Treatment involves draining the area then sterilizing the spinal components. Antibiotics are also typically prescribed to help ensure the infection resolves following surgery.

For more information about spinal infections or treatment, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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