What is Spinal Tuberculosis (Pott’s disease)

Spinal tuberculosis, also known as Pott’s disease or tuberculous spondylitis, is a rare infectious disease that leads to the collapse of the vertebrae, causing a deformity or kyphosis (hunchback). Named after Dr. Percivall Pott, who first detailed the condition in the 1700s, Pott’s disease or bone tuberculosis forms in the vertebra and slowly spreads into adjacent areas.

What causes of Spinal Tuberculosis?

According to our orthopedic spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, tuberculosis commonly starts with infectious bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mtb) that affect the lungs. If not treated, it can easily spread to the spine and cause spinal arthritis. When the infection progresses to two contiguous joints, the spinal disc receives less nutrients and begins to deteriorate.

Once the disc collapses, the vertebrae narrows and also collapses, leading to damage in the spinal cord. If no treatment is administered, this condition can lead to nerve damage, paralysis, and back deformities. One to two percent of patients who contract pulmonary (lung) tuberculosis develop Pott’s disease.

What are the symptoms of Spinal Tuberculosis?

If a person diagnosed with tuberculosis develops severe back pain, it is most likely an indication of Pott’s disease. If this happens, you should seek medical assistance from an experienced medical provider, such as our orthopedic spine surgeon in Delray Beach.

In some cases, patients don’t seek treatment for weeks until the back pain becomes serious. If the back pain worsens, the patient might not be able to stand or walk properly without suffering from a number of symptoms, including numbness, pain, or weakness in the legs. 

Other symptoms of spinal tuberculosis include tenderness in the back area, spinal deformity, muscle spasms, the restricted motion of the spine, and neurological deficits.  

Neurological deficits can occur as a result of spinal tuberculosis, along with impaired sensation, nerve root pain, and paraplegia (paralysis of both legs). There are also indirect symptoms that may still be related to the disease, such as weight loss, night sweats, fever, and body malaise or weakness. 

How to treat Spinal Tuberculosis?

Spinal Tuberculosis requires a course of treatment that may need to be administered in six months to a year. The duration of the therapy depends on the doctor’s evaluation and is often individualized, depending on the individual patient’s health.

Patients with spinal tuberculosis may be prescribed medications containing isoniazid and rifampin. In the first few months of the treatment, they may also be asked to take anti-TB drugs such as ethambutol, pyrazinamide, or streptomycin.

A study published in Iowa Orthopaedic Journal cites that despite the effectiveness of pharmacologic treatment, surgery is still indicated as a preventive and corrective measure. The goals of the surgical operation are to remove lesions, correct deformity, stabilize the spine, and release pressure from the spinal cord.

orthopedic spine surgeon palm beach county - What is Spinal Tuberculosis (Pott's disease)

About Dr. Hepler – our spine surgeon in Palm Beach County 

Don’t let back pain take over your life. If you are suffering from constant discomfort in your back, our orthopedic spine specialist is ready to help. Dr. Hepler is an adult and pediatric spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Delray Beach, and Palm Beach County. 

He treats all cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine conditions, and provides spinal stenosis treatments. Additionally, he offers non-operative treatment options, such as pain medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. But, he also provides operative treatments, including both minimally invasive techniques and complex reconstructions.

If you would like to learn more about our orthopedic spine surgeon, please Contact Us. 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.