Spinal cord abscess

A spinal cord abscess is inflammation or infection of the spinal cord along with the buildup of pus in or around the cord. Generally, it is brought about by a bacterial infection, usually by staphylococcus.

What are the potential risk factors?

The usual risk factors linked with a spinal cord abscess include:

  • Intravenous drug use
  • Back injuries
  • Immunocompromised individuals with AIDS, HIV and poorly-controlled diabetes
  • Bacteremia where infection spreads from other parts of the body
  • Skin boils either on the back or scalp
  • Lumbar puncture or any surgical procedure involving the spinal cord

What are the signs?

spinal-cord-abscess

Low back pain that starts as minor back discomfort but steadily moves to the leg, hip, shoulder, feet, arm or hand.

The indications of an individual diagnosed with the abscess is based on the site of the formation such as:

  • Fever and chills
  • Reduced or full loss of bowel and/or bladder control
  • Loss of feeling in the site below the abscess
  • Leg paresis
  • Low back pain that starts as minor back discomfort but steadily moves to the leg, hip, shoulder, feet, arm or hand

Management of spinal cord abscess

In most cases, a spinal cord abscess is managed with:

  • Intravenous administration of drugs based on the type of organism responsible for the abscess
  • Drainage of the spinal cord abscess with surgery

Prevention

The following measures can help in preventing the formation of a spinal cord abscess such as:

  • Avoiding any prohibited use of drugs and sharing of needles
  • Back injuries must be treated right away
  • The treatment for boils and other forms of infections must be completed
  • Seek medical care if there are initial signs of a possible abscess include the spinal cord. This helps in preventing serious complications from the abscess.

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