Transverse myelitis is an inflammation of the spinal cord, which often targets insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin). Transverse myelitis may result in injury across the spinal cord, affecting sensation below the injury.
The disrupted transmission of nerve signals due to transverse myelitis can cause pain or other sensory problems, weakness or paralysis of muscles, or bladder and bowel dysfunction.
Several factors can cause transverse myelitis, including infections and immune system disorders that attack the body's tissues. It may also occur because of other myelin disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
Treatment for transverse myelitis includes anti-inflammatory drugs, medications to manage symptoms and rehabilitative therapy. Most people with transverse myelitis recover at least partially, but some people with severe attacks are left with major disabilities.
Feb. 13, 2014
- Transverse myelitis fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/transversemyelitis/detail_transversemyelitis.htm. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Transverse myelitis. The Transverse Myelitis Association. http://myelitis.org/symptoms-conditions/transverse-myelitis/. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Eisen A. Disorders affecting the spinal cord. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Frohman EM, et al. Clinical practice: Transverse myelitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;363:564.
- Weinshenker BG (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 16, 2013.