Spinal infections can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. They can occur in different parts of the spine and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In this guide, we’ll cover the symptoms of spinal infections, how they are diagnosed, and the various treatment options available.
What are spinal infections?
Spinal infections are a type of infection that affects the spinal column, which includes the vertebrae, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues. These infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and can occur in different parts of the spine. Spinal infections can be serious and require prompt treatment to prevent further complications.
What are the symptoms of spinal infections?
Depending on the type and location of the infection, the symptoms of a spinal infection can vary. Common symptoms include back pain, fever, chills, and muscle weakness. In some cases, patients may also experience numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, difficulty walking, or loss of bladder or bowel control. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How are spinal infections diagnosed?
Spinal infections are typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Your doctor may ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any recent surgeries or procedures you have had. They may also perform a physical examination to check for signs of infection, such as swelling or tenderness in the affected area. Diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, imaging studies (such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans), or a biopsy, may also be used to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type and severity of the infection.
What are the treatment options for spinal infections?
Treatment for spinal infections typically involves a combination of antibiotics and surgery. The specific treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of the infection, as well as the patient’s overall health and medical history. Antibiotics are typically given intravenously (through an IV) for several weeks to help clear the infection. Surgery may be necessary to remove any infected tissue or to stabilize the spine if the infection has caused damage. In some cases, a combination of antibiotics and surgery may be necessary to fully treat the infection. To help manage symptoms and improve mobility, pain management and physical therapy may be recommended.
How can spinal infections be prevented?
While it may not be possible to completely prevent spinal infections, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. Practising good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people who are sick, can help prevent the spread of infections. It’s also important to properly clean and care for any wounds or incisions to reduce the risk of infection. For individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy, it’s important to take extra precautions to avoid infections. Additionally, avoiding high-risk behaviours such as intravenous drug use can also help reduce the risk of spinal infections.