Transverse Myelitis (tm)



Transverse myelitis (TM) is a neurological condition characterized by spinal cord inflammation, which can damage the myelin sheath (the protective covering of nerve fibres) and the nerve fibres themselves. This inflammation disrupts the normal communication between the spinal cord's nerves, leading to various symptoms.


The exact cause of transverse myelitis is often unclear, but it is believed to be related to the body's immune system mistakenly attacking the spinal cord. Some potential causes and triggers include:

1: Infections: Viral or bacterial infections, such as herpes simplex, varicella-zoster, and influenza, can precede transverse myelitis in some cases.

2: Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, and systemic lupus erythematosus are associated with an increased risk of transverse myelitis.

3: Vaccinations: Although extremely rare, some cases of transverse myelitis have been reported following vaccinations.

4: Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals may contribute to the development of transverse myelitis in some individuals.


The symptoms of transverse myelitis can vary in severity and may develop suddenly or progress over several days. Common symptoms include:

1: Back pain: Pain in the lower back often precedes the onset of other symptoms.

2: Muscle weakness: Weakness in the arms or legs, which may progress to paralysis.

3: Sensory disturbances: Abnormal sensations such as numbness, tingling, or a "pins and needles" feeling.

4: Bowel and bladder dysfunction: Difficulty with bowel and bladder control.

5: Coordination problems: Difficulty with coordination and balance.

6: Fatigue: Generalized fatigue may be present.

The inflammation associated with transverse myelitis can affect the spinal cord at a particular level, leading to symptoms corresponding to that level. The inflammation can damage the myelin sheath, disrupt nerve signals, and, in severe cases, cause axonal damage.


Clinical Evaluation:
A detailed medical history, including information about the onset of symptoms, the progression of symptoms, and any potential triggers or recent illnesses is taken. A thorough neurological examination is conducted to assess motor function, sensory function, reflexes, coordination, and other relevant neurological signs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
This imaging technique is crucial for diagnosing transverse myelitis. An MRI of the spinal cord can reveal inflammation, demyelination (loss of myelin sheath), and other abnormalities. The MRI may cover both the affected and unaffected regions of the spinal cord.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis:
A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, may be performed to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Analysis of the CSF can help identify signs of inflammation, infection, or other abnormalities.

Blood Tests:
Blood tests may be conducted to rule out other potential causes of neurological symptoms, such as infections, autoimmune diseases, or vitamin deficiencies.

Electrodiagnostic Studies:
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies may be used to assess the electrical activity of muscles and nerves. These tests can help determine the extent of nerve damage and may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic methods.

Evoked Potentials:
Evoked potential tests measure the electrical signals along nerve pathways. Visual evoked potentials (VEP), somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP), or auditory evoked potentials may be used to assess specific sensory pathways.

Biopsy (Rarely):
In some cases, a biopsy of the affected spinal cord tissue may be considered, but this is a rare and invasive procedure and is not typically performed unless other diagnostic methods are inconclusive.


Medication: Corticosteroids, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, or rituximab, etc
(Note: Medication should not be taken without the doctor’s prescription.)


Heat therapy is used to increase blood circulation and manage pain associated with transverse myelitis.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS):
TENS involves the use of low-voltage electrical currents to provide pain relief. It may be used to help manage pain associated with transverse myelitis.

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES):
FES involves the application of electrical stimulation to muscles to produce controlled contractions. This can be beneficial for individuals with muscle weakness or paralysis. FES may be used to improve muscle strength, enhance circulation, and prevent muscle atrophy.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES):
NMES is a form of electrical stimulation used to activate muscles and improve muscle strength. It is often applied to specific muscle groups to facilitate muscle contractions and prevent muscle wasting.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS):
EMS involves the use of electrical impulses to cause muscle contractions. It can be used to strengthen muscles, improve circulation, and prevent muscle atrophy.

Interferential Current (IFC):
IFC is a form of electrical stimulation that uses two intersecting medium-frequency currents to target deeper tissues. It may be used for pain relief and to promote circulation.

Ultrasound therapy:
While not strictly an electrical modality, ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to generate heat and promote tissue healing. It can be used for pain management and to address soft tissue issues.

Biofeedback involves the use of electronic monitoring to provide real-time information about physiological processes, such as muscle activity or skin temperature. This information can help individuals learn to control and improve these processes.

Range of Motion Exercises:
Gentle range of motion exercises help maintain joint flexibility and prevent contractures. These exercises are important, especially for individuals with muscle weakness or paralysis.

Strengthening Exercises:
Targeted strengthening exercises focus on the muscles affected by transverse myelitis. This may involve resistance training and functional exercisesto activate muscles.

Balance and Coordination Training:
Exercises that challenge balance and coordination are important for improving stability and preventing falls. This can include activities such as standing on one leg, walking on different surfaces, and incorporating balance exercises into daily activities.

Gait Training:
Gait training is a critical aspect of rehabilitation for those with mobility issues. Physiotherapists work on improving walking patterns, and balance during walking, and may use assistive devices as needed, such as canes or walkers.

Functional Activities Training:
Therapists focus on improving the individual's ability to perform daily activities, such as getting in and out of bed, dressing, and bathing. This includes adaptive techniques and equipment as necessary.

Cardiovascular Conditioning:
Aerobic exercises, adapted to the individual's abilities, can help improve cardiovascular fitness. This may include activities such as stationary cycling or arm ergometry.

Breathing Exercises:
For individuals with respiratory involvement, breathing exercises may be incorporated to maintain or improve lung function.

Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Devices:
Physiotherapists may recommend and train individuals to use adaptive equipment and assistive devices to enhance independence and safety in daily activities.


Patient education is important to emphasize the role of rehabilitation in improving function and independence. The patient is encouraged to engage in physiotherapy and other rehabilitative services to enhance strength, mobility, and overall well-being. Patients are educated on their condition, and self-management strategies, and are provided with a home exercise program to continue progress between physiotherapy sessions.

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