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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Myelitis

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Myelitis [posted 8/12/98]
Question: My aunt has been suffering from numbness in her legs. After a spinal tap and three MRIs, we were told that she has an inflammation of the spinal cord - myelitis. I would appreciate any information.

Answer: There are several types of myelitis. Poliomyelitis was common prior to polio vaccine. However, there are several types. Basic types are infectious (usually viral), paraneoplastic (due to tumors), transverse (cause unknown, but thought to be post viral) and inflammatory (usually systemic lupus). The most common is transverse myelitis and many think this is related to multiple sclerosis - but controversial. The disease is manifested by demyelination of the spinal cord leading to dysfunction of the affected nerves. Treatment varies with the probably cause, but is generally steroids or something equivalent. After the damage/inflammation is over there is no effective treatment and the nerve is permanently damaged.

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