FAQs about Transverse Myelitis - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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FAQs about Transverse Myelitis

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Is transverse myelitis genetic/inherited?

No genetic pattern is known. Transverse myelitis is not related to family history.
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Is transverse myelitis contagious?

There is no evidence to suggest that transverse myelitis is contagious.
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How is transverse myelitis different from MS?

One of the many causes of transverse myelitis is MS but not all people diagnosed with MS experience transverse myelitis.
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What are the treatments for transverse myelitis?

There is no cure for transverse myelitis at this time and no medications have been specifically approved to treat it. The standard of care for transverse myelitis includes the following:

  • Intravenous (into the vein) corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone or dexamethasone may be given to help decrease the swelling in the spinal cord. In some cases, prednisone, taken by mouth, is used for a period of time after the IV therapy is completed.

  • Plasma exchange (PLEX) may be ordered if no improvement occurs with corticosteroid therapy.

Cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug that is often used to treat lymphomas or leukemia, is sometimes used for those who continue to experience active inflammation of the spinal cord, despite treatment with steroids and/or PLEX.. Patients receiving this treatment are carefully monitored for potential complications that may arise from immunosuppression.

Many different types of medications may be used to help deal with abnormal sensations or pain. These medications could include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or narcotics. Lidocaine patches, topical capsaicin, and botulinum neurotoxin are other options.

Non-pharmacologic approaches to addressing abnormal sensations or pain may include biofeedback, physical therapy, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

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