Potts Disease

...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!

Potts Disease, which is also known as Pott’s caries, David's disease, and Pott's curvature, is a medical condition of the spine. Individuals suffering from Pott's disease typically experience back pain, night sweats, fever, weight loss, and anorexia. They may also develop a spinal mass, which results in tingling, numbness, or a general feeling of weakness in the leg muscles. Often, the pain associated with Potts disease causes the sufferer to walk in an upright and stiff position.


    The onset is gradual.
  • Back pain is localized
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss

Pott’s disease is caused when the vertebrae become soft and collapse as the result of caries or osteitis. Typically, this is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis. As a result, a person with Pott's disease often develops kyphosis, which results in a hunchback. This is often referred to as Pott’s curvature. In some cases, a person with Pott's disease may also develop paralysis, referred to as Pott’s paraplegia, when the spinal nerves become affected by the curvature.


. . . Non-Drug

Immobilisation of the spine is usually for 2 or 3 months.

. . . Drugs

The standard drug treatment for tuberculosis is employed.

. . . Surgical

Surgery plays an important part in the management. It confirms the diagnosis, relieves compression if it occurs, permits evacuation of pus, and reduces the degree of deformation and to duration of treatment. However, a Cochrane review found that routine surgery in addition to chemotherapy had not been shown to improve outcome but the problem was that the evidence was poor. A study from India suggested that surgery is not mandatory.


  • Pott's disease in developing countries represents about 2% of cases of tuberculosis and 40 to 50% of musculoskeletal tuberculosis.
  • Tuberculosis worldwide accounts for 1.7 billion infections, and 2 million deaths per year.
  • Over 90% of TB occurs in poorer countries, but a global resurgence is affecting richer ones.
  • India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh have the largest number of cases but there has been a marked increase in the number of cases in the former Soviet Union and in sub-Saharan Africa in parallel with the spread of HIV.
  • The disease affects males more than females in a ratio of between 1.5 and 2:1. In the USA it affects mostly adults but in the countries where it is commonest it affects mostly children.

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    ...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!