Transverse Myelitis | Dulles Neurology Associates

Transverse Myelitis: What Is It, And When To See Your Dulles Neurology Specialist

Transverse Myelitis is a rare disorder that is caused by inflammation or nerve cell damage of the spinal cord. It has distinct symptoms and signs of neurologic dysfunction that unfortunately can affect people of all ages and gender. According to the National MS Society, there are approximately 1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis diagnosed each year in the United States, and it is estimated that close to 33,000 Americans have some type of disability resulting from transverse myelitis. Leesburg neurology specialist, Dr. Sarbjot Dulai walks you through what transverse myelitis is, what symptoms to look for, as well as when to see a neurologist.

What is Transverse Myelitis?

The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system where impulses from the brain send messages to other parts of the body. When Transverse Myelitis is present it causes an inflammation of the spinal cord which can damage or even destroy myelin, the fatty protective insulating material that covers the nerve cell fibers. The damage from the disease can lead to scarring that will interrupt the communication between the nerves in the spinal cord and the rest of the body. This interruption of messages can cause pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems, and bladder/bowel dysfunction. 

It is suspected that viral and bacterial infections of the spinal cord may lead to transverse myelitis, however the exact cause is unknown. Some cases have shown that traverse myelitis appears after the recovery from the initial infection. Viruses that have been shown to be associated with transverse myelitis are:

  • Herpes Viruses 
  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox
  • Epstein-Barr
  • HIV
  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis B
  • Cytomegalovirus 
  • Mumps, measles, and rubella. 

Bacterial infections that are associated with transverse myelitis include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pneumonia
  • Bacterial skin infections. 

Other inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders like Multiple Sclerosis, Sarcoidosis, and Neuromyelitis Optica appear to cause the disorder as well. 

Signs and Symptoms

Transverse myelitis symptoms can develop over a few hours to a few days. Affected areas can occur on one or both sides of the body. 

Common signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Pain. It can begin suddenly, with sharp pains down your legs/arms or around your chest or abdomen. You will experience pain based on the part of the spinal cord that is being affected. 
  • Abnormal sensations. Numbness, tingling, a coldness, or burning have been reported by patients with transverse myelitis. Some have experienced sensitivity to the clothing they are wearing and the temperature—extreme heat or cold.
  • Muscle weakness. Patients have reported experiencing heaviness in their arms or legs. Others have developed severe weakness or even total paralysis.
  • Bladder and bowel problems. This includes the need to urinate more frequently, urinary incontinence, and a difficulty while urinating or experiencing constipation. 

When to see a neurologist

You should seek you doctor or get emergency medical care if you are experiencing signs and symptoms of transverse myelitis. Sensory issues, general weakness, bladder and bowel problems and spinal cord compression can be caused by this neurological disorder and can become an emergency requiring surgery. Another cause could be a stroke due to impaired blood circulation, or the blockage of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the spinal cord. It is important to get a prompt diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for your specific medical needs and quality of life. Leesburg neurologist, Dr. Dulai, has vast experience in creating treatment plans for transverse myelitis that minimize and prevent further neurological events. These treatments can include:

  • Intravenous steroids
  • Plasma exchange therapy
  • antiviral medication
  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Medications to prevent recurrent attacks of transverse myelitis.

Make An Appointment With Dr. Dulai Today!

Early detection is important when it comes to transverse myelitis. To explore any potential symptoms you may be having schedule an appointment with local Dulles neurology specialist Dr. Dulai located near Inova Loudoun Hospital at Lansdowne or StoneSprings Hospital Center in Dulles. 

With his experience and knowledge of this disease Dr. Dulai can create a personalized treatment for you. Contact Neurology Associates today at (703) 726-6393 and mention you may be having symptoms of transverse myelitis and would like to schedule a consultation.