7 Symptoms of Spinal Infection After Surgery

Spine Surgery

7 Symptoms of Spinal Infection After Surgery

Recovering after spine surgery is a process in itself, and that process can be complicated by the development of an infection. Even if your surgeon takes steps to mitigate the risk of an infection, there’s always a chance an infection can set in. Not only can infections cause pain, they can also cause serious health problems. Today, we explain what symptoms suggest that you’re dealing with a spinal infection after surgery, and how the condition is treated.

Spinal Infection Symptoms

Some common symptoms that signal you may be dealing with an infection in your back include:

  • Regionalized pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swelling
  • Redness/Heat radiating from infection site
  • Numbness/Tingling
  • Spinal weakness

Spinal Infection Identification and Treatment

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor right away. Infections can cause spinal operations to fail, nerve damage and even paralysis, so don’t assume the infection will resolve on its own.

Once you’ve talked to your spine surgeon, he or she will likely order a round of tests to confirm the presence of an infection. Some ways your doctor will diagnose an infection include:

  • Blood Test – In this scenario, your doctor will take a blood sample to look for the presence of bacteria, cell changes, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or elevated levels of certain proteins that indicate the presence of an infection.
  • CT/MRI Scan – Computed tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging can look at the detailed structures inside the back and determine if an infection is present.
  • Spinal Tap – A spinal tap or lumbar puncture involves removing a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid and testing the fluid for the presence of an infection.

Treatment of the infection is based on numerous factors, including the type of infection, where it is located and what structures are in danger. Sometimes the infection can be managed with prescription antibiotics and IV treatments, but the infection won’t resolve over night. Oftentimes non-surgical techniques take weeks or months to fully rid the body of the infection.

Operative treatment is another way to treat a spinal infection. Again, surgery is based on your specific infection, but the operation will have four simple goals:

  • Clean and remove the infected tissue
  • Promote healthy blood flow in the area
  • Maintain and ensure spinal stability
  • Limit spinal impairment

For more information about preventing and treating spinal infections, consult a spinal specialist today.



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