MYELITIS is a relatively rare condition and experts are unsure of the exact cause of it.
It is most common in ages 10 to 19 and 30 to 39, but can occur at any time.
What is myelitis?
Myelitis is a neurological condition that happens when both sides of the same section of the spinal cord become inflamed.
Inflammation to the spinal cord can cause damage to the myelin (the substance that covers your nerves) or axon (nerve fiber) – which can result in paralysis and sensory loss.
Loss of myelin can also lead to spinal cord scarring, which then blocks nerve impulses and results in physical problems.
Myelitis is classified to several categories, depending on the area or the cause, however any inflammatory attack on the spinal cord is usually referred to as transverse myelitis.
It is not known what the exact cause is, but the inflammation that leads to it can result as a side effect of other conditions such as Lyme disease, syphilis and measles.
In other cases, some people can suffer from myelitis as a result of spinal injuries and defects, or vascular diseases.
This is because these reduce the amount of oxygen in spinal cord tissue, which can cause nerve cells to die, leading to the inflammation that leads to myelitis.
What are the symptoms of myelitis?
Symptoms of myelitis can come on very quickly within the space of a few hours or days, or over one to two weeks.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicines, symptoms include back or neck pain, weakness in arms or legs, abnormal feelings in the legs such as burning or tingling, and loss of bladder or bowel control.
Symptoms can occur in different parts of the body depending on which part of the spinal cord is inflamed.
For example, people with inflammation in the neck usually feel symptoms from the neck down.
Whereas inflammation in the middle of the spine often causes issues from the waist down.
Myelitis affects everyone differently, and other symptoms can include headaches, tiredness and muscle spasms.
Is Myelitis fatal?
There is currently no cure for myelitis, but it is not thought of as fatal.
Around one in three people with myelitis make a good or full recovery.
A third may experience some recovery, while the remainder will make little or no recovery and have a permanent disability.
After diagnosis, recovery usually begins within two months and can continue for up to two years or more.
Myelitis can leave some sufferers with permanent physical disabilities, such as muscle stiffness, loss of bowel or bladder function, muscle weakness, or even paralysis.
Some people may use a wheelchair for all or part of their lives, while others may have no visible symptoms.