The Vault

An overview of Fixed Sagittal Imbalance and Treatment Options
March 27, 2017
An Overview of Compression Fractures and Treatment Options
March 30, 2017

An Overview of Arachnoiditis and Treatment Options

Arachnoiditis is a rare condition that is a result of inflammation of the arachnoid membrane of the spinal cord. The inflammation causes blood vessels and nerves to stick together and form clumps of scar tissue. The ailment can produce multiple symptoms in the upper and lower extremities as well as in the trunk region. Arachnoiditis has no known cure and can progress in severity, leading to significant disability.

The causes of arachnoiditis include:

  • Trauma resulting from surgery or a direct spinal injury resulting in nerve compression
  • Infections such as tuberculosis or spinal meningitis
  • Advanced spinal stenosis
  • Spinal tap
  • Epidural steroid injections

Symptoms of arachnoiditis can often be confusing because of their variability. The most common are:

  • Shooting pain or pins and needles sensation
  • Chronic persistent lower back and limb pain
  • Buttock pain
  • Leg numbness, tingling and muscle weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder control
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Worsening pain with activity
  • Rare neck and arm pain

Leg paralysis can happen in very extreme cases.

Diagnosing arachnoiditis is difficult because of the symptom grouping. The best tools that provide the most accurate information are an MRI, CT scan, EMG. The physician will review previous medical history, current symptoms and perform a physical exam. The combined results will decide the presence of arachnoiditis.

Treatment for the disease is focused on pain control and maintaining the individual’s quality of life. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, antispasmodic, anti-convulsants can be prescribed. A device called an intrathecal pump can also be implanted to deliver medication directly to the spine. Physical therapy using hot and cold packs, hydrotherapy and exercise are recommended. Psychotherapy can be beneficial to aid with the emotional aspects of managing chronic pain. Surgery is not a choice due to the risks of neurological complications, infection, and further nerve damage or scar tissue formation.

If you have been experiencing chronic low back pain and would like to find out about our treatment choices, please contact us at either our Seguin or New Braunfels locations.

Comments are closed.