Arachnoiditis

A predominant symptom of arachnoiditis is chronic and persistent pain in the lower back, lower limbs or, in severe cases, throughout the entire body.

Written by Edgar G. Dawson, MD

Arachnoiditis is a debilitating condition characterized by severe stinging and burning pain and neurologic problems. It is caused by an inflammation of the arachnoid lining—one of the 3 linings that surround the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation causes constant irritation, scarring, and binding of nerve roots and blood vessels.

Illustrated below—in the intradural space—are the 3 meninges (protective membranes) that surround the brain and spinal cord.

  1. Dura mater
  2. Arachnoid
  3. Pia Mater

Symptoms

The predominant symptom of arachnoiditis is chronic and persistent pain in the lower back, lower limbs or, in severe cases, throughout the entire body. Other symptoms may include:

If the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe or even permanent. This disorder can be very debilitating, as the pain is constant and intractable. Most people with arachnoiditis are unable to work and have significant disability.

Causes of Arachnoiditis

There are 3 main causes of arachnoiditis:

Treatment

There is no cure for arachnoiditis. Treatment options are geared toward pain relief and are similar to treatments for other chronic pain conditions. Some examples include the following:

Surgery is not recommended for arachnoiditis because it only causes more scar tissue to develop and exposes the already irritated spinal cord to more trauma.

Living with Arachnoiditis

Unfortunately, this condition can cause serious disability. It is never easy to live with chronic pain. Not only does it adversely affect your body, it can also cause mental stress as well. Sufferers of arachnoiditis are encouraged to join support groups or find other therapeutic outlets for stress. Treatment methods should be focused on pain relief and maintaining quality of life. More research is needed about this and other chronic pain conditions so that someday a cure may be found.

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