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Are you suffering from tuberculosis?
Is your back achy or painful?
Are you feeling a loss of sensation in any part of the spine area?

If your answer is yes, then you are highly prone to spinal cord abscess. Spinal cord abscess may not found like a serious health condition. But it has proven to be life-threatening for the majority of the population today. It requires immediate treatment because it leads to permanent damage to the nervous system, loss of functioning of the body causing paralysis. This is especially true in acute pyogenic epidural abscesses.

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Continue reading our article to know more about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of the spinal cord abscess.

Overview of Spinal Cord Abscess

The swelling of tissues containing an accumulation of pus in and around the spinal cord referred to a spinal cord abscess. The pus forms as the collection of white blood cells, fluid, live and dead bacteria, and other damaged tissues and puts pressure on the spinal cord. It mostly results from a bacterial infection called Staphylococcus sp.

It is a rare condition but causes permanent damage to your spine. It exhibits no symptoms during its initial stage. When the disease gets worse over time, and you may have potentially severe symptoms such as paralysis, fever, and radiating pain in your arms and legs.

Who Can Have Spinal Cord Abscess?

Spinal cord abscess is found mostly in the individuals:

  • Using intravenous drugs
  • Suffering from HIV, AIDS, and poorly-controlled diabetes
  • Experiencing frequent back injuries
  • Having any surgery done on the spinal cord
  • Affected from infection on other body parts

Causes Of Spinal Cord Abscess

The most common causes of spinal cord abscess are:

  1. Bacterial Infection: The spinal cord abscess mostly results from a bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacterial species. Gram-negative bacteria also cause spinal cord abscess, but on rare occasions.
  2. Other Microorganisms: Microorganisms including Actinomyces, Listeria, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Sparganum (a type of tapeworm) are also more likely to cause spinal cord abscess. These creatures enter your body through various means.
  3. Other Chronic Health Conditions: Spinal cord abscess also results from other health infections such as tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, and a ruptured gallbladder. By and large, Tuberculosis is a very common situation in Our country, which causes epidural abscesses.

Symptoms Of Spinal Cord Abscess

The symptoms of spinal cord abscess:

  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of movement in the area below the abscess
  • Loss of sensation in the area below the abscess
  • Mild to severe lower backache
  • Pain moving your hip, leg, or feet
  • Pain spreading to the shoulder, arm, or hand

When To Contact A Medical Professional?

Contact a medical professional if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above of spinal cord abscess.

Diagnosis Of Spinal Cord Abscess

The diagnosis of spinal cord abscess include:

Physical Examination: During your initial visit to a spine specialist, he will conduct a thorough physical examination to find tenderness over the spine, spinal cord compression, paralysis of the lower body, entire trunk, arms, and legs, changes in sensation below the affected spinal area.

Other Tests Include: Here are a few different tests which are conducted to determine the amount of nerve loss and the location of spine abscess.

  1. Complete blood count
  2. CT scan of the spine with contrast
  3. MRI of the spine

What Happens When Spinal Cord Abscess Is Left Untreated?

  • Severe back pain
  • Permanent damage to the spinal cord
  • Recurrence of infection
  • Decreased control of the bowel and bladder
  • Loss of sensation in and around the area of the abscess
  • Impotence
  • Complete paralysis of the body

Treatment For Spinal Cord Abscess

Early diagnosis of spinal cord abscess helps you to prevent complications. The untreated spinal cord abscess can cause potential damage to your whole body in the form of paralysis and impotence. Once the surgeon identifies the location of the abscess, he or she will drain or remove the pus and fluid using several techniques. The pus will be sent for gram stain. AFB stain, Culture and Sensitivity tests. Appropriate antibiotic therapy is needed apart form surgical drainage. Many times, intravenous medications are needed to kill the disease-causing bacteria from spreading throughout your body.


If you suffer any of these symptoms, see a doctor who can help you with the effective treatment for preventing the bacterial infection. Early prevention of spinal cord abscess enables you to avoid complications such as spinal cord compression. For more information on spinal cord abscess, visit on

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