Spinal Conditions



Discitis: inflammation of disc due to infection; can be painful. Rare condition, affecting children more than adults.

Condition and Causes

Between each vertebra in the spine lies a disc. When one of these discs becomes infected and inflamed, it is diagnosed as discitis. Staphylococcus bacteria or other bacterial/viral infections are often the culprits behind the infection. Typically, discitis affects the discs in the lumbar and thoracic sections of the spine. Although rare, it disproportionately affects children under the age of 10. The condition is characterized by intense pain, which tends to radiate throughout the body with any movement of the spine.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Discitis include a gradual onset of intense back pain, accompanied by fever, chills, sweating, and stiffness. Fatigue, loss of appetite, and reluctance to stand, walk, or sit up may also manifest. Diagnosis typically involves a review of the patient’s medical history and a physical examination by a physician. Confirmatory tests may include X-rays, MRIs, or bone scans. Blood tests, such as a white blood cell count and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate, may also be conducted to assess inflammation levels.


Treatment for Discitis varies based on the patient’s age and the cause of the infection. The primary objective is to eliminate the infection and alleviate associated symptoms. Treatment may involve prescription medications such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, steroids, and pain relievers, along with recommendations for bracing and bed rest. In severe cases where symptoms persist despite conservative measures, surgical intervention such as discectomy or interbody fusion may be necessary.

Risks and Benefits

Neglecting preventive measures for any spinal condition can exacerbate the condition. Surgical interventions for advanced cases can alleviate extremity pain. Common risks associated with surgery include infection, blood loss, non-union, and nerve or spinal damage, with additional risks specific to the procedure undertaken. This information serves as an overview of surgical procedures and treatments and should not replace medical advice from a qualified physician. Patients are advised to consult their doctor regarding the specific risks and benefits of their treatment plan.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.