Spinal disc infections can be tricky to diagnose since symptoms, typically ranging from fever and chills to tingling sensations in the arms and legs, rarely appear directly in the back area. Disc infections tend to be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection often resulting in inflammation that puts pressure on surrounding discs.
Determining the Source of the Infection
The key to successful treatment of a spinal disc infection starts with determining the cause of the infection. Treatment for disc infections like discitis, for instance, normally starts with antibiotics. For underlying autoimmune diseases resulting in disc infections, anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed by physicians. Determining the source of the infection usually involves:
- Blood tests
Treating Related Conditions
In some instances, patients may have more severe conditions like osteomyelitis (an inflammation of bone or bone marrow) in addition to the spinal infection. When an underlying disorder is discovered, that condition often needs to be treated first since related symptoms may be more pronounced than the pain from the actual disc infection.
Antibiotics for infected spinal discs are usually given orally. However, in severe cases, patients may need to receive IV-delivered antibiotics. Antibiotic treatments usually last for about a week, although treatment can continue for a few months after. Additional non-surgical treatments for spinal disc infections may include:
- Bracing (to facilitate healing and reduce pain by limiting movement within the spine)
- Changes to daily activities (if those activities are aggravating pain from the infection)
Surgery is rarely an option for a disc infection. For instance, when a prior surgery has resulted in a disc infection and thus increased pressure on the spinal cord, a second surgery may be performed to provide relief. If you feel a second surgery is necessary or you are still trying to determine the cause of your spinal pain, call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and work with our world-class diagnostic team of physicians and spinal surgeons in Beverly Hills.