Inflammatory Brain or Spine Disease

Also known as: inflammatory brain disease, spinal inflammatory disorders, inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS), brain/spinal abscess, meningitis, encephalitis

What are inflammatory disorders of the brain and spine?

Inflammation is the process that the body uses to respond to an infection or irritating process. Inflammation usually results in pain and swelling of the part of the body involved. Many, but not all inflammations of the brain and spinal cord are from infections like bacteria, viruses or other germs (organism).

Sometimes the body can respond to any infection/irritation by producing proteins (antibodies) which can attack its own brain or spinal cord causing an inflammation. There may be an inherited genetic abnormality is some brain inflammations.

When infections are walled off in an organ (brain/ spinal cord or other organ) it's called an abscess; encephalitis, is inflammation of the brain; myelitis, or infection of the spinal cord; and meningitis, which is an infection of a membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of inflammatory disorders of the brain and spine?

A number of symptoms can be related to these disorders, depending on the age of the infant/child.

Infants may have a fever, become fussy, won't eat, and/or have seizures, or don't move their limbs, while older children may present with fever, pain (headache), seizures, difficulty with memory, confusion, mood changes, difficulty with speech, and  loss of feeling/movement in arms and legs.

What are inflammatory disorders of the brain and spine care options?

Many (but not all) brain and spinal cord infections can be treated with medications that kill the infecting organism. Other medications may be used to manage the  other types of inflammation  and manage the symptoms related to the illnesses.

Both the diseases and the treatments may have serious complications

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 22, 2019 09:45 AM