Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder of the spine caused by inflammation across the spinal cord. It is sometimes associated with the term myelopathy, which refers to any disorder of the spinal cord. However, transverse myelitis is a more specific term for inflammation (myelitis) across the width of the spinal cord (transverse) that results in changed function below this level while function remains normal above. Symptoms are related to movement and sensory functions. This disorder occurs in both adults and children, and typically begins with a rather rapid development of symptoms over the course of several hours, days, or weeks. Symptoms may include lower back pain, weakness in the legs and arms, sensory disturbance, spasms leading to gradual paralysis, and bowel or bladder disfunction
In most cases, this is a disorder that occurs on a single occasion, although a small number of individuals may experience recurrence. The initial occurrence may be followed, over a period of several weeks or months, by a period of recovery, although this does not happen in all cases. There is considerable variability in the degree of recovery achieved. Transverse myelitis is sometimes associated with other diseases, including systemic autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosis and sarcoidosis. It may be occur following viral or bacterial infections, especially those associated with a rash, spinal cord injuries, or immune reactions.