Just about everyone has had an infection. Technically speaking, acne is a form of infection, and pimples are caused by a growth of bacteria in backed-up oil glands on your skin. The bacteria grows by eating the oil and the dead skin cells that clogged the gland, white blood cells show up to isolate and kill the bacteria so they can’t spread into the rest of your body, and as a result the gland swells with pus and turns red.
However, while pimples are embarrassing, they’re also an example of what happens when your body successfully fights off an infection. If a bacteria or a virus can successfully sneak into your bloodstream, things can quickly get much worse.
Spinal meningitis is the medical term for an inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding your spine and brain, and most often the cause of this inflammation is an infection of some sort. Most frequently it’s a viral infection that comes and goes without incident, but if a bacterium manages to sneak into your spinal cord, you may be in a lot of danger.
Signs And Symptoms Of Spinal Meningitis
Since spinal meningitis frequently affects the layers of protective tissue that surround your brain as well as the tissue that surrounds your spine, many symptoms of spinal meningitis are the result of your brain getting squeezed by the inflamed meninges. These include:
- Severe headaches
- A stiff neck or back (particularly from up/down movement)
- Fever and chills
- Nausea, vertigo, and vomiting
- Light sensitivity
- Mood swings
Fortunately, most cases of spinal meningitis are the temporary result of a viral infection. Anyone can come down with viral meningitis, but it’s most common in children and adults under 30, and as many as two-thirds of all cases crop up in children under five years old.
The most common culprit for viral meningitis is the enterovirus, which normally strikes in the intestines and causes flu-like symptoms. However, the herpes virus can sometimes cause meningitis in infected adults, and the West Nile meningitis is growing more common as the virus spreads across North America. Still, no matter what the virus responsible may be, most cases of viral meningitis don’t last more than two weeks.
Another good thing about viral meningitis is the fact that we already have vaccines which prevent infection from many of the viruses which can cause the disease. Over time, we may eventually be able to end this mild but still dangerous infection and inflammation.
Bacterial meningitis is far more dangerous than viral meningitis. Viruses are usually so specialized that they can only attack a few kinds of cell, but bacteria don’t have this kind of limitation. Infectious bacteria survive by attacking any cells they can and by stealing food meant for our bodies, and as such if they’ve made their way into the cells lining our brains, they aren’t going to stop there.
This is why it’s important to identify the possibility of spinal meningitis as soon as possible. Bacterial meningitis may be rare, but it can easily become fatal if left untreated. The most characteristic symptoms are a severe headache and a stiff neck that specifically punishes you for trying to look up or down instead of side to side.
This second symptom allows chiropractors and other medical professionals to perform Brudzinski’s test to check for meningitis. Starting with a patient lying face up on a table or bed, the professional can tilt the patient’s head down to his or her chest. If the patient lifts his or her hips or legs to relieve the pain this movement brings on, then it’s very likely meningitis.
If you experience these pains along with any combination of the other symptoms listed above, do not visit your chiropractor and do not visit a massage therapist. Go straight to a hospital or clinic and get yourself tested for bacterial meningitis. If it’s a viral infection the inflammation will go away after a few days anyway, and if it’s a bacterial infection then you need to get started on an antibacterial medication right away.
Another good reason to visit a doctor right away is the fact that bacterial meningitis is very often infectious. Thus, anyone and everyone you come into contact with may become infected if you aren’t careful.
Fortunately, vaccines can work for more than just viruses. Meningococcal vaccines protect against five of the most common bacteria that cause meningitis, and while the vaccine is unlikely to end the threat of bacterial meningitis completely, it at least makes it far less likely to occur among the vaccinated population.
Other Causes Of Spinal Meningitis
Although they’re far rarer than either bacterial or viral meningitis, the meninges can become inflamed because of other reasons. Under certain conditions, brain injuries or surgery can cause temporary meningitis, as can other infection sources like tuberculosis, Lyme disease, or even a fungal infection.
What Happens Afterward Treatment?
Since much of the inflammation of an infection actually comes from the immune response rather than the virus or bacteria itself, you may wind up with a stiff or sore neck and persistent headaches that last long after the danger has passed. However, with the right chiropractic techniques you may be able to speed up this healing period.
Chiropractic biophysics techniques are designed both to adjust the spine into a healthy triple curve and to rehabilitate sore and underused muscles through stretches and gentle exercises. Once traditional medicine has done its job by keeping you alive, CBP can get your neck and head back into top shape faster than rest alone.
Chiropractic techniques do have a place in modern medicine, but at the same time it’s good to know where its benefits begin and end. As such, if you’re recovering from spinal meningitis (along with the spinal tap the doctors likely performed to test for bacteria), you may be able to speed up your recovery time with some regular visits to a chiropractor. And if you should happen to live in the Vancouver area, then Dr. Stuart Kilian of Advantage Chiropractic is just the man you should see.