The Many Types of Myelitis: An Overview

The Many Types of Myelitis: An Overview

Myelitis is an inflammatory disorder of the spinal cord that can be caused by a variety of factors. It can lead to significant neurological disability, including paralysis and loss of sensation. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the different types of myelitis that exist and the symptoms they are associated with. We will also discuss the various treatments available for myelitis and the outlook for those affected by it. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of the various types of myelitis and the best options for managing it.

The Many Types of Myelitis An Overview

Transverse Myelitis

The exact cause of transverse myelitis is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction to an infection. Other potential causes may include genetic predisposition, medications, and toxins.
The symptoms of transverse myelitis vary depending on the severity of the inflammation. Common symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, and paralysis in the arms or legs. In severe cases, people may experience urinary retention, constipation, sexual dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, and respiratory failure.
Treatment for transverse myelitis includes medications such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, physical therapy, and rehabilitative therapies. Treatment goals are to reduce inflammation, preserve mobility and strength, prevent recurrences, and improve overall quality of life.

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

ADEM usually begins with a single episode of inflammation in the brain and/or spinal cord that lasts for a few weeks. It can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms resemble those of many other illnesses. In most cases, it is preceded by a viral infection, such as measles, mumps, chickenpox, rubella, or influenza.
The primary symptom of ADEM is an acute onset of neurologic symptoms, including difficulty with movement, tingling or numbness, vision disturbances, and difficulty speaking. Other symptoms may include confusion, headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, and seizure activity. The condition can cause paralysis in some cases.
In most cases, the symptoms of ADEM gradually improve over a period of weeks or months. In some cases, however, the effects of ADEM may be permanent or recur periodically. Treatment typically includes corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and medications to manage symptoms. Treatment can also help to prevent long-term complications of the condition.

Longitudinal Myelitis

Acute longitudinal myelitis is usually seen in adults and is caused by an immune-mediated process triggered by infections or other environmental factors. Symptoms of acute longitudinal myelitis include weakness, numbness, pain, and difficulty moving one or more limbs. In severe cases, paralysis may occur. Other symptoms may include headaches, fever, fatigue, blurred vision, difficulty speaking or swallowing, and bladder or bowel dysfunction.
Chronic longitudinal myelitis usually occurs in children and is caused by an autoimmune response to an infection. Symptoms of chronic longitudinal myelitis may include pain, weakness or paralysis of the lower limbs, loss of bladder or bowel control, and muscle spasms. Treatment for both acute and chronic forms of longitudinal myelitis typically includes medications to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be recommended to help improve mobility and function.

Neuromyelitis Optica

NMO is caused by autoantibodies attacking the body’s own cells. These antibodies target the myelin sheath, which is the insulation around nerves. When the myelin sheath is damaged it causes inflammation, leading to the signs and symptoms of NMO.
Diagnosis of NMO is based on a combination of medical history, a physical exam, blood tests, imaging studies, and a neurological exam. Treatment options include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. These treatments are used to reduce inflammation and help manage symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure for NMO. However, research is ongoing and new treatments are being developed all the time.
Living with NMO can be difficult for many people. It’s important to take care of yourself and find support from family and friends. Organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can provide resources and support for those living with NMO.