Discs called vertebrae are located between the bones of your spine and act like shock absorbers. Discitis is defined as inflammation of the disc. 

Signs and symptoms

Discitis causes pain in the area of your spine affected by the swelling. Other common symptoms include:

  • Posture changes
  • Back stiffness
  • Difficulty with movement
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Fever

Potential causes

Infections and autoimmune diseases can cause discitis.


Diagnosis of discitis starts with a physical exam and medical history. Other procedures and tests may be needed to diagnose discitis, including blood tests to determine if there is an infection present causing the inflammation, bone scans x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment options

Treatment options for discitis depend on the severity of your symptoms:

  • MedicationsĀ to help control pain, treat the infection and/or reduce inflammation
  • Bracing
  • Lumbar decompression and fusion surgery. This procedure is performed to take pressure off of the nerves in the lower back, and to treat or prevent instability of the lower spine. The surgery is performed through an incision in the middle of the lower back or between your ribs and hip crest, directly over the level of your surgery. Your surgeon will remove a window of boneā€”a procedure called a laminectomyā€”as well as ligament and parts of the joints of the spine to take the pressure off of the nerves. The fusion portion of the procedure involves using screws and rods to connect bones of the spine together, along with placing bone graft material that will grow over time, typically 6 – 12 months, and fuse the bones of the spine together.

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