This newsletter is entitled...
On March 6th , 2002 I was diagnosed with DISCITIS and was hospitalized for five days and under home care for five weeks while I rapidly recovered.
I wrote about this rare illness in my June Newsletter of that year and ever since then ~ 10% of my website traffic ( which is over 1000 hits a day ) has googled Discitus (misspelled) and been referred to that June, 2002 Newsletter.
Evidently this quite rare disc infection is becoming more common and , with that in mind, I am devoting this Sunday Reflection to this illness with appropriate personal notes .
I have done a considerable amount of research on this subject and this may be of interest to those of you who have persistent back pain or know of others who do.
Discitis means inflammation of a disc and can either be benign or a disc-space infection. Mine was an infection between the discs.
Discitis is more common with children than adults and probably because the cartilage portion of children's discs are supplied with blood.
The symptoms of Discitis is moderate to severe back pain related to any movement of the spine. For a several weeks prior to my diagnosis I thought I had a compounded back and was seeing a chiropractor ~ although the pain was persistent. X-rays did not reveal the infection.
The cause of Discitis is somewhat controversial. Most spine specialists believe that it is caused by the introduction of a bacteria during an invasive procedure or an inflammatory reaction. The infections can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria including salmonella species. Mine was caused by a salmonella species ( probably from a junk food sandwich ) and the bacteria went right to my compromised back.
Discitis is diagnosed usually through diagnostic imaging such as Magnetic imaging ( MRI ) or computed tomography ( CT ) scans. MRI appears to be the most useful imaging modality for evaluating spine infection without the risk of invasive procedures. MRI has a sensitivity of 96% , specificity of 93% , and accuracy of 94 %. In my case the back pain became so unbearable that my personal doctor ( GP ) got fed up with giving me pain killers and made me schedule an MRI , after being called by my chiropractor. The radiologist on duty recognized the possibility of Discitis and I was in the hospital the same day ~ with the correct diagnosis and the correct intravenous antibiotic therapy which stopped the infection in its tracks.
Post-procedural Discitis is usually treated with antibiotic medications, immobilization of the spine or surgery depending upon the severity of the infection. The usual course of antibiotics is five to six weeks of intravenous administration followed by additional weeks of oral antibiotics. Fortunately since the diagnosis was made early I had five weeks of intravenous antibiotics and wore a portable brace for a few weeks during that time until the spine fused by itself. This was extremely painful but once the spine fused ~ the pain literally went away within a few days . I never had invasive surgery and my back is completely normal at this time ~ and I take no medication.
Risk factors for Discitis or spinal infection include age greater than 50 years old, history of cancer, unexplained weight loss, pain that lasts more than a month, history of IV drug abuse, presence of urinary tract infection or other infections and recent invasive procedures. In my case I was over 50 , had back pain for over a month and had contracted food poisoning ( salmonella ).
Discitis is a deadly serious matter for that infection could easily have gone to my brain , with deadly consequences, if I had not taken action.
I owe my very rapid recovery to many factors including excellent health, a healthy life style, incredibly loving and supportive friends and the ability to laugh at myself and my feeble condition ~ particularly when I was under home care.
My amazed doctor laughs and says I've got great genes.
I was very humbled by this experience and I look back on it with deep gratefulness ~ because so many people were there for me when I really needed them .
And that, I'm sure , was my lesson .