Spinal Tuberculosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Introduction Spinal Tuberculosis

Introduction Spinal Tuberculosis

Spinal tuberculosis (TB) represents a group of serious infectious diseases whose incidence has increased over the past two decades, particularly in underdeveloped countries of the world. As a result, stiffness and abscesses develop in the affected joints. Bone TB affects the joints of the hips and knees. This is also an additional disease for AIDS patients. Typical tuberculosis like osteoarticular manifestations is common. This causes pain in the extra spinal bones, in the trochanteric region, or in the prosthetic joints. The infection progresses in a favorable epidemiological context. Spinal tuberculosis usually results from the reactivation of bacteria already living in the bone. At the time of primary infection with mycobacteria, the pathogenic effect on the spine and large joints is due to the abundant vascular supply of the enlarged plates of the vertebrae and long bones. Tuberculous arthritis or TB of bone results from an extension of the initial infection and spreads from the bone to the joints. In this article, we are going to Explore everything about Spinal tuberculosis. Therefore, if you want to gain complete and detailed knowledge about Spinal tuberculosis then this blog is just for you.

Understanding Tuberculosis

Before deep diving into spinal tuberculosis let’s understand tuberculosis first.  Tuberculosis is abbreviated as TB. TB is caused by a bacterial infection. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the name of the bacteria. The lungs are frequently impacted by this disease. It is a contagious disease, an infected person can spread pulmonary TB through coughing, sneezing, and spitting. A healthy individual can become sick when these infectious particles enter their body by breathing. If TB is left untreated it can become fatal. Along with the lungs, this disease can also impact other parts of the body.

Understanding Spinal Tuberculosis

Understanding Spinal Tuberculosis 

Most people believe that tuberculosis (TB) is a lung disease that affects our lungs. However, other organs and tissues in the body are also impacted by this potentially serious viral sickness. The spine is the bone that is most frequently impacted by tuberculosis infection. Spinal TB refers to the spread of tuberculosis to the spine. Other names for spinal TB include Pott’s illness and tuberculous spondylitis. When it infects the spine, the disc and related spinal bone become infected. Over time, it causes the vertebral body to be destroyed and the spinal column to collapse, resulting in the deformity known as kyphosis (hunchback).

What Causes Spinal Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an organism known to cause tuberculosis, is known to start as a lung infection. It can readily spread to the spine and result in spinal arthritis if left untreated. The spinal disc starts to deteriorate and receive less nutrients when the infection spreads to two nearby joints. When a disc gives way, the vertebrae constrict and fall as well, injuring the spinal cord.

Causes Of Spinal TB

Causes Of Spinal TB

  • Blood Borne Infection: TB is an infection. Whenever someone gets infected with this infection, this bacteria enters the blood. So that bacteria can pass from the blood cells through the blood vessels to the spinal cord, knee, chest, lungs, etc. in the body. Wherever this bacteria enters the body, it stops there and starts forming pus. So infection occurs there. Spine tuberculosis is a blood-borne infection. The bacteria first enter the blood, whereas lung infection enters the body through breathing. This blood-borne infection of bacteria can lodge somewhere in the body.
  • Improper Treatment: If someone is suffering from pulmonary TB or any TB, it is suggested to go through a proper treatment as it can readily spread to the spine and cause spinal arthritis if left untreated. The spinal disc receives less nutrients and begins to degrade when the infection spreads to two neighboring joints. When a disc fails, the vertebrae narrow and collapse, injuring the spinal cord.
  • Weak Immunity: Mycobacterium bacteria can cause infection in the body if someone has weak immunity. People who have low immunity, such as people who are suffering from malnutrition, or those who have any kind of disease like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, hypothyroid, steroid patients, etc. can get this infection and infection inside the spinal cord easily if they are not being taken care of properly.

Signs and symptoms of Spinal Tuberculosis:

Signs and symptoms of  TB

The most common symptoms of a person suffering from bone TB are as follows:-

  • Joint pain
  • Kutt disease. (TB of the spine)
  • back pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cushioning of the vertebral disc
  • Discomfort in the thoracic region
  • Pain in the carpal bone ( carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • wrist pain (In case of vertebral bone defect)
  • Hump in the spine
  • Destruction of vertebrae or discs
  • The feeling of dislocation of bones
  • No cough or fever
  • Osteoarticular manifestations
  • Brain disorders
  • Shortening of body part
  • Swelling of soft tissue
  • Deformity in bone structures

TB Diagnosis In The Spine?

TB Diagnosis In The Spine

Earlier, spinal TB was frequently misdiagnosed as arthritis. However, the two illnesses’ forms of pain are very different from one another. Most people with arthritis find that sleeping helps them feel better at night; however, people with bone TB find that lying flat or on their back makes them feel more uncomfortable because of increased bacterial activity. After obtaining a complete medical history and performing a physical examination, the specialist determines the initial diagnosis based on signs and symptoms. The final diagnosis of tuberculosis in the spinal cord is aided by the test listed below:

  • X-ray: In the early stages of the disease, an X-ray will show disc height loss because spinal tuberculosis typically starts with disc involvement and destruction. 
  • CT and MRI Scan: An MRI provides more detailed information about the infection surrounding the damaged disc and a nearby vertebra. Additionally, it aids in disclosing any external spinal cord infections, vertebral body damage, and spinal cord compression. When an MRI is not an option, a CT scan can give comprehensive information about the structure of the bones.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy can be used to further assess an infection that has been found in an MRI. It will provide us with the last assurance that our diagnosis is correct.

Treatment and Prevention of Spinal Tuberculosis:

spine care procedure Spinal TB can be identified by needle biopsy, CT-MRI, X-ray, and blood test. Next comes antitubercular medication. Medications are often taken for six months to a year in order to treat tuberculosis. If the disease is extremely advanced, regular medication use will be required for an additional few days.

What Are The Complications of Spinal Tuberculosis?

Even though spinal tuberculosis is extremely rare (spoken between 1-3%), once diagnosed, it can be fatal. It may get worse the longer it is left untreated. Among the frequent issues are: 

  • Vertebral collapse resulting in kyphosis or bending of the back
  • Spinal cord entrapment 
  • Development of a cold abscess in the neck
  • Severe infection that could spread to the trachea, mediastinum, and other areas and cause the formation of sinuses 
  • Serious neurological issues
  • Weakness in the lower limbs


A bacterial infection that typically affects the lungs is tuberculosis. Nevertheless, it has the potential to spread to the spine and other body parts. Early symptoms of spinal tuberculosis include stiffness, back pain, and muscle spasms that are also common with other common back injuries. However, diagnosing spinal tuberculosis can be challenging. Tissue cultures, imaging, and skin or blood tests are used to diagnose spinal tuberculosis. Medication and surgery are used as treatments for spine damage. A good prognosis depends on early diagnosis and treatment.

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