Printer Friendly VersionEmail A FriendAdd ThisIncrease Text SizeDecrease Text Size




Diskitis is swelling (inflammation) and irritation of the space between the bones of the spine (intervertebral disk space).

Alternative Names

Disk inflammation


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.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty getting up and standing
  • Increased curvature of the back
  • Irritability
  • Low-grade fever (less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Refusal to sit up, stand, or walk (younger child)
  • Stiffness in back
Signs and tests
Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

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.

Calling your health care provider

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.

  • Persistent back pain (rare)
  • Side effects of medications

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.



Cottle L, Riordan T. Infectious spondylodiscitis. J Infect. 2008;56:401-412.

Skeletal spine Intervertebral disk
Read More

Review Date: 7/17/2008
Reviewed 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.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Home Page
Why Choose Us
Website Terms of Use

Visitor & Patient Info
Patient Portal
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us

Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking

Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access
Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000    |