Transverse Myelitis, A Condition Caused by the Common Flu and Tetanus Vaccine
For the overwhelming majority of people, the flu and tetanus vaccines are completely safe. However, in rare cases, they can cause a number of conditions, including Transverse Myelitis.
You may not have heard of this condition. That’s because it’s very rare.
The National Institutes of Health says only about 1,400 cases are diagnosed each year.
And just 33,000 Americans suffer from disabilities it causes.
What is Transverse Myelitis (TM)?
It’s a neurological disorder that inflames both sides of a single segment of your spinal cord. “Transverse” describes the position of the pain, which is across the width of your spinal cord. “Myelitis” refers to the area the condition impacts. Specifically, it harms or completely destroys myelin, which protects your nerve cells.
What Symptoms Does TM Cause?
Transverse Myelitis usually develops in a few hours or days, but it can also take several weeks. It works differently in various people.
You can experience a number of symptoms, some mild, others severe:
- Lower back pain
- Abnormal burning, tickling, numbness, coldness, or tingling in your legs
- Partial paralysis of your legs
- Total paralysis of your legs and partial paralysis of your lower body
- Complications with your urinary and bowel functioning
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of appetite
- Respiratory problems
- Sharp, shooting pains throughout your legs, arms, and torso
- Another person’s, or your clothing’s, touch causes significant discomfort or pain
- Sensitivity to changes in temperature
When Should You See a Doctor?
Four general categories of symptoms may be a sign of Transverse Myelitis:
1. Pain in your neck, back, or radiating in your legs, arms, or abdomen
2. Abnormal sensations like numbness and tingling, sensitivity to the touch of clothing or extreme temperatures and feeling something is wrapping tightly around your chest, legs, or abdomen
3. Leg/arm weakness
4. Bladder and bowel problems
Experiencing these symptoms doesn’t guarantee you have TM. But they are a sign you could have it – or another serious neurological disorder.
If you experience any of them, call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
Can You Recover from Transverse Myelitis?
Unfortunately, there is no known effective cure. Treatments involve making the symptoms more manageable.
The National Institutes of Health continues to note that:
- About 1/3 of people get good or full recovery from this condition
- 1/3 will have permanent, specific challenges such as walking with their legs too close together (spastic gait), sensory dysfunction, and incontinence or a frequent urge to urinate
- 1/3 do not recover at all and may be confined to a wheelchair or bed for the rest of their lives
It’s almost impossible for doctors to predict the course of your recovery. Generally, if you are getting better in 3-6 months, you will have a good recovery. If you don’t show progress, it’s not likely you’ll recover.
If you get treatment early on when you first notice the signs and symptoms of Transverse Myelitis, you have a much better chance of making a full recovery.
Treatment today consists of:
- Managing emotions involved with this condition (fear, anger, frustration, sadness, depression)
- Drugs to help with pain relief
- Physical, occupational, or vocational therapy
What Causes Transverse Myelitis?
Researchers do not know all the causes. However, some are known:
- Tetanus vaccine
- Flu vaccine
- Lyme disease
TM can also be the first sign of more serious nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica.
How Do You Get Diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis?
It’s hard for doctors to distinguish between patients who have TM from unknown causes versus ones who have an underlying condition. Structural lesions, like tumors and herniated discs, must first be ruled out. To confirm or disconfirm this, your doctor runs an MRI.
You may also have a blood test performed to rule out other disorders such as HIV or vitamin B12 deficiency. You may also have a spinal tap performed, which tests the amount of cerebrospinal fluid that floats around your spinal cord. If your protein levels are unusually high, that suggests a specific cause of TM, like recent tetanus or flu vaccine.
Most people get just a single instance of this condition. However, a rare few have chronic episodes.
When Flu & Tetanus Vaccines Cause Transverse Myelitis, You May be Entitled to Compensation!
In rare cases, these shots cause TM. But you don’t file a claim against your medical professional. Instead, the government has set up the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to manage these cases.
And you have just 3 years from the first time you experienced symptoms to file your claim.
If you’ve experienced these symptoms after the flu or tetanus shot, call Howie Law, P.C.’s vaccine injury lawyers today at 866-828-2028, or contact us online, for a free consultation to see if you may be entitled to compensation.