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Causes and symptoms of spinal tuberculosis

TB does not only occur in the lungs, but can also occur in organs and other body parts. One part of the body that can get TB is the spine. Recognize the causes and symptoms of spinal tuberculosis, so that it can be avoided and not too late to be treated.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the entry of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria into the lungs. But in certain conditions, these bacteria can actually spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. If that happens, a condition called extra pulmonary TB or TB will occur outside the lungs.

Spinal tuberculosis is also known by another name, TB spondylitis (Pott's disease). The part of the spine that is most often attacked by TB spine is the spine in the lower thoracic area and upper spine. If the tuberculosis bacteria spread to the adjacent vertebrae, infection can occur in the bearing between the two vertebrae, called the intervertebral disc.

If these pads are infected, the distance between the two vertebrae will narrow and even stick. The spine will lose flexibility and damage because it does not get nutritional intake. Someone who experiences this condition can be difficult to move.

In both segments of the spine that are sticking together due to damage to the disc, the cells that die will accumulate to form an abscess, also called gibus. This Gibus will make your back look crooked, like something stands out.

What Causes Spinal TB?

As explained above, spinal tuberculosis occurs when the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis has spread through the bloodstream. In addition, there are other risk factors that can increase a person affected by spinal tuberculosis, such as the weakness of the immune system due to HIV infection, living in an area or country where the majority of people suffer from tuberculosis, and live in a low socio-economic level.

What are the symptoms of the appearance of spinal tuberculosis?

Here are some symptoms that can occur when a person has spinal tuberculosis:

  • Back pain in certain parts.
  • At night the body sweats and has fever.
  • Experience weight loss or experience anorexia.
  • Hunchback or kyphosis which is sometimes accompanied by swelling around the spine.
  • Stiff and tense body.
  • The appearance of neurological disorders, if the nerves are disturbed.
  • Protrusion of the spine (gibus).
  • The appearance of a lump in the groin due to an abscess, which is often mistaken for a hernia.

The above conditions can occur gradually or maybe without realizing it. Try to see a doctor if you experience the above symptoms. To diagnose spinal tuberculosis, the doctor will do a physical examination plus a series of investigations, such as spinal X-ray, CT scan, MRI, and biopsy of tissue around the vertebrae using a needle.

Another possible test is a complete blood test, including an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (LED). In patients with spinal tuberculosis, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate will generally increase. After active tuberculosis can be controlled, the sedimentation rate of blood will return to normal or near normal. In patients with spinal tuberculosis, there is also an increase in the number of white blood cells.

TB symptoms are not always followed

People with bone TB do not always experience the classic symptoms of tuberculosis, such as fever, night sweats or weight loss. However, 50% of people with bone tuberculosis also experience TB infection in their parental organs.

Even so, usually the infection in the lung is not active or dormant. In general, people with bone tuberculosis are not contagious because transmission occurs through coughed droplets.

Diagnosis of bone tuberculosis is based on medical interviews, physical examinations, to investigations in the form of blood tests, Mantoux skin tests (see skin reactions injected with a few TB antigens), MRI or CT scan of the bones, chest and spine x-rays, and biopsy (taking partial bone tissue) if needed.

How do you prevent bone tuberculosis?

By preventing pulmonary TB, you also prevent bone tuberculosis. Start with yourself, always keep yourself clean and consume foods with balanced nutrition to improve your immune system. So, your body can easily handle if there are any bacterial or viral infections entering your body.

If you suffer from pulmonary TB, you should treat your illness well. We recommend that you follow the medication given by your doctor. That way, your pulmonary TB disease can heal quickly and not spread causing bone TB. Don't forget to eat lots of foods with balanced nutrition so that your immune system is stronger in fighting disease.

Spinal tuberculosis can be overcome by taking anti-tuberculosis drugs for several months regularly, without breaking up. For cases of spinal tuberculosis that cause complications, such as nerve damage, it is necessary to deal with surgical procedures. Get to know the symptoms of spinal tuberculosis and immediately consult a doctor if you experience a suspicious complaint.



Garg, R. & Somvanshi, D. NCBI. Spinal tuberculosis: A review. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 2011. 34(5), pp. 440–454. Easmon, C. Net Doctor UK (2013). Tuberculosis.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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