Transverse Myelitis


Transverse Myelitis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: TM.

The central nervous system (CNS) is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Messages (nerve impulses) from the brain travel along the spinal cord and control the activities of the body such as movement of the arms and legs or function of the organs.

Transverse myelitis is a rare disease of the central nervous system involving inflammation in the spinal cord. The term myelitis is a nonspecific term for inflammation of the spinal cord; transverse refers to involvement across one level of the spinal cord. TM is a neurologic syndrome caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, which often targets insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin).

Types may include: Acute necrotizing myelitis, acute transverse myelitis, ascending myelitis, bulbar myelitis, concussion myelitis, demyelinated myelitis, Foix-Alajouanine myelitis, funicular myelitis, postinfectious myelitis, postvaccinal myelitis, radiation myelitis, subacute necrotizing myelitis, systemic myelitis, and transverse myelitis.

The exact cause of TM is no known, although it is thought to be the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the spinal cord. This is called an autoimmune reaction. However, there are a number of conditions that appear to trigger or contribute to the disorder. These conditions include:

    Viral infections of the respiratory tract or the gastrointestinal tract have been implicated in transverse myelitis. In most cases, the inflammatory disorder appears after a person has recovered from the viral infection.

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia, a relatively mild form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium, may act as a trigger for the immune system mechanisms causing transverse myelitis.

  • Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys myelin surrounding nerves in your spinal cord and brain. Transverse myelitis may be the first sign of multiple sclerosis or represent a relapse of symptoms. Transverse myelitis occurring as a sign of multiple sclerosis usually manifests on one side of your body only.

  • Neuromyelitis optica (Devic's disease) is a condition that causes inflammation and loss of myelin around the spinal cord and the optic nerve, the nerve in your eye that transmits information to your brain.

  • Autoimmune disorders affecting other body systems are likely contributing factors in some people with transverse myelitis. These disorders include lupus, which can affect multiple body systems, and Sj

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