Tuberculosis of the Spine

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Mar 18, 2012

Tuberculosis of the spine, also known as Pott’s disease, is a kind of extra pulmonary tuberculosis that affects the spine. It is a type of tuberculoses arthritis of the inter-vertebral joints. Scientifically, it is known as tubercular spondylitis and usually affects the thoracic portion of the spine. Tuberculosis of the spine is caused by haematogenous spread of tuberculosis infection from other parts, often pulmonary.  Later, it spreads from two adjacent vertebrae into the adjoining inter-vertebral disc space. The disc is normal if only one vertebra is affected. When avascular disc is affected, it stops receiving nutrients and collapses. The disc tissue dies and gets broken down due to cessation of nutrients, thereby causing vertebral narrowing and ultimately leading to vertebral collapse and spinal damage.



Some common symptoms of Pott’s disease are back pain, fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, night sweats, imbalance, clumsiness, anorexia and even paralysis.  Patients with tubercular spondylitis experience acute back pain, which can cause tingling, numbness or weakness in the legs.  Pain in the spine leads to weakened muscles and causes the sufferer to sit and walk in a rigid and upright manner.


Spinal tuberculosis can be diagnosed using several ways. After experiencing any of the symptom, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor will examine the motion range in your spine. A number of neurological tests will be conducted and your complete medical history will be assessed to know the reason behind developing TB infection. To confirm the prevalence of tuberculosis, your blood tests or X-rays can be taken. Magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and bone scans are necessary, sometimes.


The treatment course for each patient depends on various factors such as patient’s age, severity of the back pain and response to other treatments. With proper medications, the patient is prescribed full bed rest to take vitamin supplements and restrict much of physical labour. For quick recovery, patients are advised to do spinal exercises and sometimes, a back brace is necessary. If the damage becomes severe, the doctors advise a surgery. Back surgery is the last resort and usually, patients do not require it.

How to prevent Spinal Tuberculosis?

Judging the symptoms initially and controlling the spread of tuberculosis infection may prevent the occurrence of tubercular spondylitis and arthritis. Patients with a positive tuberculin sensitivity test, but not with active tuberculosis may minimise the risk of spreading TB infection by adhering to proper routine of taking anti-TB medicines.



Read more articles on Tuberculosis


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