What Causes Infection In The Spine? Its Symptoms And Treatment

Spinal infections refer to infections located along the vertebral column, inter-vertebral disc, spinal canal or surrounding structures. Epidemiological reports suggest that vertebral osteomyelitis is the most common spinal infection and affects more than 65000 people annually. On the other hand, Epidural abscess is the rarest form of spinal infection.

Treatment for spine infections has significantly improved over recent years; however the death rate due to spinal continues to persist at 20%, with higher mortality rates among elderly.

Causes Of Infection In The Spine

Spinal infection is caused by either bacteria or fungal infection. The most common bacterial infections that lead to infection in the spine are caused by Staphylococcus Aureus and E Coli. Mycobacterium is also considered to be another common cause of spine infection, especially in the developing world.

Spinal infections can also be associated with urological procedures, as the veins from the lower part of the spine come out through the pelvis. Post-surgical infection is considered to be the leading cause for spinal infections.

Spinal infections are also common among intravenous drug users. Other risk factors associated with spinal infections include advancing age, immune-compromising condition, malnutrition, diabetes mellitus, cancer, organ transplant or long term use of steroids.

In most cases, spine infections are associated with a history on trauma.

Symptoms Of Spinal Infection

The common symptoms associated with spinal infection include the following,

  • Local symptoms may include stiffness at the site of infection along with severe pain and tenderness.
  • Some patients may complain of a sinus which drains pus to the surface. This sinus often has an offensive, yellowish discharge and occasionally may contain pieces of bones.
  • Depending upon the location of spinal infection, symptoms of muscular weakness, tingling numbness, etc may be experienced in the affected region.
  • Headache, fever with chills, weight loss, etc may be some of the other systemic symptoms.

Diagnosis of the condition can be made on physical examination, followed by a series of investigations. To begin with an X ray of the spine may be performed to identify possible bone damage. A follow up scan using MRI or CT scan imaging may be performed to confirm the damage to the surrounding tissues and the spinal cord.

Treatment For Spinal Infection

Conventional treatment therapy mandates the use of intravenous antibiotics or long term anti-fungal therapy for treatment of patients with spinal infection. Hospitalization is usually inevitable, often depending upon the severity of the condition. Surgical intervention may be required in more serious causes. While home remedies and natural treatments are often not recommended in such serious conditions, here are some suggestions that can be used in conjunction with conventional modern therapy to hasten recovery,

  • Ensure that your diet is balanced and includes fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, yoghurt, lean meat, etc. A balanced diet is important to hasten the healing process, whilst also reducing the severity of side effects associated with the use of intravenous antibiotics.
  • Add a table spoon of honey and turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk and drink thrice a day. Both turmeric and raw honey have strong antibacterial properties and can hasten the healing process. Further turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory properties which might be beneficial.
  • Homeopathic drugs Rhuta, Rhus Tox and Arnica should be taken in combination about four to five times a day. These medications can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

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