How do you treat discitis?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Discitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the intervertebral discs in the spine. It is typically treated with a long course of antibiotics to eliminate the infection causing the inflammation. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, eradicate the infection, and prevent further complications.

The primary treatment for discitis is antibiotic therapy. This usually involves intravenous antibiotics administered daily at an infusion center. The duration of treatment can vary, but the standard therapy generally requires six to eight weeks of intravenous antibiotics. It is important to complete the full course of treatment to ensure the infection is completely eradicated.

In some cases, oral antibiotics may be used after the initial phase of intravenous therapy. This transition to oral antibiotics allows for more convenient and continued treatment at home. The specific choice of antibiotics will depend on the suspected or identified infectious organism. Commonly used antibiotics for discitis include vancomycin, ceftriaxone, and clindamycin.

Pain management is also an integral part of discitis treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, stronger pain medications, such as opioids, may be prescribed. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve mobility and strengthen the back muscles.

In certain situations, surgery may be necessary for discitis treatment. This is typically reserved for cases where there is significant spinal instability, neurological complications, or failure to respond to conservative treatment. Surgery may involve removing the infected disc and stabilizing the spine with instrumentation.

During the treatment process, regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider are crucial. These visits allow for monitoring of symptoms, assessment of treatment response, and adjustment of antibiotic therapy if needed. Imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scans, may be performed periodically to evaluate the progress of the infection and assess the healing of the affected disc.

It is important to note that discitis treatment can be physically and emotionally challenging. The long duration of antibiotic therapy and potential side effects of medications can take a toll on the individual’s well-being. It is essential to have a strong support system in place and communicate openly with healthcare providers to address any concerns or difficulties encountered during treatment.

Discitis is typically treated with a prolonged course of intravenous antibiotics, lasting six to eight weeks. Pain management and physical therapy may also be incorporated into the treatment plan. Surgery is reserved for severe cases or those that do not respond to conservative measures. Regular follow-up appointments and open communication with healthcare providers are crucial throughout the treatment process.