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Transverse Myelitis From a Vaccine

Transverse Myelitis can be caused by the flu shot, tetanus shot, or other vaccines. It is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. Inflammatory attacks can damage or destroy myelin, the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers, different than a SIRVA injury. If the myelin is destroyed, the nerves are exposed to damage leading to subsequent symptoms of Transverse Myelitis.


What is Transverse Myelitis?

Transverse Myelitis ("TM") is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord resulting from damage to nerve cells in a certain area. It is characterized by signs of neurologic dysfunction in motor and sensory tracts on either side of the spinal cord. The involvement of motor and sensory control pathways frequently produce altered sensation, weakness and sometimes urinary or bowel dysfunction. TM is an unbiased condition, affecting all age groups from young children to the elderly, regardless of family history, gender or race.Transverse Myelitis | My Vaccine Lawyer The term “transverse” indicates dysfunction across the entire spinal cord, however this term can be misleading. There is not always damage across the whole cord. Even a pinpoint area of inflammation can result in asymmetric spinal cord dysfunction below the level affected, while functioning above that level remains normal. As such, the medical community often uses the single term “myelitis” to describe the condition.


Transverse Myelitis Symptoms & Causes

Debilitating symptoms include a loss of spinal cord function over several hours to several weeks. TM often begins as a sudden onset of lower back pain, muscle weakness, or abnormal sensations in the toes and feet.

TM can rapidly progress to more severe symptoms, including paralysis, urinary retention, and loss of bowel control. Although some patients recover with little to no residual problems, others suffer permanent impairments that affect their ability to perform ordinary tasks of daily living.

There are four (4) ‘classic’ symptoms of TM, which can show up in as little as a few hours or days, or gradually over the course of a few weeks:

  • Weakness in the arms/legs
  • Sensory symptoms such as numbness or tingling (pins-and-needles)
  • General pain and discomfort (lower back)
  • Bladder dysfunction and/or bowel motility issues

The bodily distribution of these symptoms can be either symmetric or asymmetric, affecting one (1) or both legs and arms. 60% of TM cases have unknown causes despite the presence of inflammatory evidence. However, the remaining 40% of cases are caused by three things: autoimmune disorders, infections and vaccines.


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Autoimmune Disorders


  • Bacterial (Lyme disease, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.)
  • Fungal (aspergillus, blastomyces, coccidioides and cryptococcus)
  • Parasites (toxoplasmosis, cysticercosis, schistosomiasis, etc.)
  • Viral (Varicella zoster – causes chickenpox and shingles, enterovirus and West Nile virus)


Transverse Myelitis Diagnosis & Treatment

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, especially if they grow in severity at a quick rate, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor will run certain tests to diagnose your symptoms.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") or Computerized tomography ("CT") scan
  • Spinal tap (higher amount of white blood cells in the fluid could be a sign of infection)
  • Blood work

There is no known cure for TM, so doctors generally try to manage the disease and ease the patients symptoms with antiviral medications, Intravenous Immunoglobulin (“IVIG”) therapy, medications for various symptoms, over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, plasma exchange therapy, steroids and many different non-medical treatments.


Transverse Myelitis & Multiple Sclerosis

In younger people, Transverse Myelitis may be the first indication of multiple sclerosis. MS destroys the myelin in the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness and stiffness, tingling in the body, numbness, blurred vision and difficulty with thinking.


Compensation for Transverse Myelitis Injuries

If you or a loved one received a flu shot, tetanus shot, or another vaccine and were diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, you may qualify for compensation from a government fund called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation at (800) 229-7704. Our representation comes at no cost to you.


Page last reviewed and updated: November 20, 2020

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