Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Understanding Transverse Myelitis

Transverse Myelitis refers to a condition characterized by inflammation of the spinal cord with damage to the myelin sheath, which is an insulating material which protects the nerve fibers. As a result of this inflammation of the spinal cord with damage to the myelin, the communication between the brain and other parts of the body gets disrupted resulting in a variety of symptoms including change in sensation and bowel and bladder dysfunction.

Transverse Myelitis is a condition which can strike anyone between ages 20 to 40. This condition affects males and females alike. Primary causes resulting in the development of Transverse Myelitis can be infections or immune system disorder.

Transverse Myelitis Recovery

Transverse Myelitis Recovery: How Long Does It Take To Recover?

It is well known that Transverse Myelitis does not have a cure and hence treatment is directed towards the symptoms caused by this condition. In fact, the effects of Transverse Myelitis are quite variable, and it affects each individual quite differently. This is the reason that the recovery time for each individual varies with regard to a condition like Transverse Myelitis.

The symptoms caused due to nerve damage as a result of Transverse Myelitis may range from muscle spasms to numbness and tingling in the lower extremities, bowel and bladder dysfunction, ambulation difficulties and problems with balance. In most of the cases, the recovery from Transverse Myelitis begins with a few weeks from the onset of symptoms and continues for months if not years.

If the diagnosis of transverse myelitis is made early and treatment started immediately then the recovery process is a bit faster. Physical therapy and rehabilitation is extremely important in cases where recovery from transverse myelitis is quite slow as it helps a lot in the long run.

Studies have suggested that approximately 30% of people with Transverse Myelitis make a good recovery with almost complete return to normal activities. However, there are approximately 40% of cases where individuals do not make a complete recovery and are left with residuals like ambulation difficulties, pain, muscle fatigue, and paresthesias. Approximately 30% of people make absolutely no recovery from the condition and are considered as permanently disabled. Thus, it is extremely difficult to predict as to how much an individual will recover, although early treatment hastens the recovery process of Transverse Myelitis. It is also seen that recovery is generally good in individuals who experience a sudden onset of symptoms rather than in those individuals who have a gradual onset of symptoms. It is also seen that majority of the recovery is made within three months of the onset of symptoms after which the recovery process becomes much slower. Thus, individuals who do not show much recovery within the first three months have little chance of showing further recovery long term.

The damaged myelin sheath is able to repair itself, but it is a very slow process and even then the repair is not complete. Hence some symptoms will always remain as sequelae when it comes to recovering from Transverse Myelitis.

In conclusion, the recovery process from Transverse Myelitis is significantly variable and differs from individual to individual depending on the time of diagnosis, the onset of symptoms whether it was sudden or gradual, and the response to treatment. Individuals with sudden onset of symptoms seem to have near full recovery, whereas, individuals with gradual onset of symptoms tend to have moderate to little recovery. Majority of the recovery process takes place within the first three months of the onset of symptoms of Transverse Myelitis.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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