Chronic pain in the back, legs, or arms can have a multitude of causes, but one rare cause is a condition called transverse myelitis. This neurological condition can cause various types of pain throughout the body, ranging from mild and intermittent to severe and ongoing. Learn more about transverse myelitis pain in this guide.
What Is Transverse Myelitis?
Transverse myelitis is a rare neurological condition that causes inflammation in the entirety of the spinal column or in isolated portions. It affects the entire cross-section of the spinal cord, which can lead to a number of health concerns and ongoing symptoms.
Symptoms of Transverse Myelitis
Since the spinal cord contains many essential nerve fibers that control all of the systems throughout your body, transverse myelitis can create a wide range of symptoms. This includes:
- Lower back pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Coldness or burning sensation
- Shooting pain in arms and legs
- Weakness in the limbs
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Muscle spasms
- Autonomic dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Increased sensitivity to touch
Since these symptoms are wide-ranging in nature, it is always possible they could be due to another condition. If you are experiencing any combination of these issues, it is essential that a neurologist evaluate you to see if they are caused by transverse myelitis.
What Is Transverse Myelitis Pain Like?
While transverse myelitis can manifest slightly differently for each person, the main underlying symptom is chronic pain. This may be felt in the back, arms, legs, abdomen, and more. This pain is often described as a burning or stabbing pain that can migrate throughout the body, depending on the area of the spinal cord that is inflamed.
Some patients experience throbbing pain that is isolated to specific areas. This usually occurs in an area that had prior sensory changes. Others experience a tight, squeezing pain that develops in their chest. Almost all patients report that their transverse myelitis pain increases with physical exertion, stress, or prolonged heat exposure.
Treating Transverse Myelitis Pain
Regardless of the type of pain, getting proper treatment is vital for maintaining your quality of life. Transverse myelitis pain will continue to worsen in the weeks and months following diagnosis. Without adequate pain management, this can significantly impact your ability to function normally.
Traditional approaches to transverse myelitis pain include a number of options. Oral medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are very frequently used. This includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, opioids, and more.
Minimally invasive procedures like nerve blocks and steroidal injections may also provide some relief.
Some people look to regenerative therapies like stem cell therapy for their transverse myelitis pain. These options are still being heavily researched, but they show potential benefits for reducing inflammation and providing long-term pain relief.