Arachnoiditis is an inflammatory pain disorder caused due to the inflammation in the arachnoid membranes surrounding the spinal nerves. The arachnoid can get inflamed due to a severe chemical reaction, infections due to bacteria or viruses, direct injury to the spine, and other reasons. Symptoms of Arachnoiditis are characterized by severe stinging, burning pain, and neurological problems. The inflammation can sometimes lead to scar tissue formation, leading to the “sticking together” of spinal nerves. This condition is excruciatingly painful and is referred to as adhesive Arachnoiditis.
Arachnoid inflammation can have painful and debilitating symptoms, which can vary significantly from person to person. One of the most common symptoms of Arachnoiditis is chronic neuropathic pain or neuralgia. Neuralgia is a stabbing, burning, and often severe pain due to an irritated or damaged nerve. There are also cases where the patient feels constant tingling and numbness of the extremities. In contrast, some patients experience difficulty with their bowel, bladder, and sexual functioning if the lower spinal cord is involved. Some patients experience difficulty sitting for long periods because of pain and discomfort. Some patients experience symptoms or problems with motor functioning, such as the control of limbs. Patients experience muscle cramps, spasms, and uncontrollable twitching, making motor control exceedingly tricky.
Arachnoiditis can be caused from complications from surgery and therapy or due to infections from viruses and bacteria. This leads to inflammation, which then leads to Arachnoiditis. In some cases, injury in the spine can also lead to a similar effect. MRI and CT scans help in the diagnosis and electromyogram test can diagnose its severity.
Arachnoiditis is extremely difficult to treat. Most of the current work on treatment is limited to the alleviation of pain and other symptoms. Though it is not curable, treatment can improve the quality of life for the patient. With the right medication, physical therapy, and psychotherapy, patients can work towards reducing the effects of symptoms on their body and mind. Surgical intervention, so far, has not seen favorable outcomes, most providing only temporary relief.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Arachnoiditis, we encourage you to consult a pain physician. Arachnoiditis is a progressive disorder, which means that it generally tends to get worse over time if not treated professionally. While there is no known cure to the disease, treatment can help improve the quality of life for the patient, reducing suffering and discomfort.