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Alternative Names Return to topDisk inflammation
Definition Return to top
Diskitis is swelling (inflammation) and irritation of the space between the bones of the spine (intervertebral disk space).
Causes Return to top
Diskitis is an uncommon condition. It is usually seen in children younger than age 10.
Diskitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Or it can be caused by other inflammation, such as from autoimmune diseases (conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks certain cells in the body). The upper back (thoracic) and low back (lumbar) disks are most commonly affected.
Diskitis can also be confused with problems related to hip pain.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
The goal is to treat the cause of the inflammation and reduce pain. Your child may receive anti-staphylococcal antibiotics if the health care provider suspects an infection. Autoimmune diseases are often treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
If the condition does not improve steroids may be given, although an infection should be ruled out first. Pain may be relieved with oral painkillers (analgesics) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Talk to the health care provider about the best choice of medications.
Bed rest or immobilization (which may require a body cast) may be recommended in some cases.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Children with an infection should fully recover after treatment. Chronic back pain from this condition is very rare.
In cases of autoimmune disease, the outcome depends on the condition. These are often chronic illnesses.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your child has persistent back pain or problems with standing and walking that seem unusual for his or her age.
References Return to top
Cottle L, Riordan T. Infectious spondylodiscitis. J Infect. 2008;56:401-412.Update Date: 7/17/2008 Updated by: Andrew L. Chen, MD, MS, Orthopedist, The Alpine Clinic, Littleton, NH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.