The arachnoid of the human body is one of the membranes that surrounds and protects the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves of the spinal cord. The cerebrospinal fluid circulates from the brain to the sacral area, filtering any invasion. This fluid is contained in the arachnoid. As the fluid reacts to invasions of other microorganisms, it responds primarily by inflammation followed by a chronic stage life-lasting phase characterized by scarring and fibrosis. Abnormal adhesion of nerve roots to the dural sac or clumping of the nerves occurs as a result of the inflammation and scarring (source).
There is no consistent pattern of symptoms for arachnoiditis. The most common symptom is a severe neuropathic pain of the affected area, usually the nerves connecting to the lower back and legs. A variety of neurological problems like tingling, numbness, weakness or loss of motor function of the legs, a sensation of insects crawling on the skin, and sexual problems. Severe cases of this condition can result in a loss of bladder and bowel control and even paralysis.
There are various causes of arachnoiditis. It can arise from direct trauma to the spinal cord caused by surgical interventions, multiple spinal taps and steroid injections, injection of myelogram dye into the spinal cord and infections that cause meningitis. This is a rare disease, but it is found to be more common among women than men. This may be due to the pregnant women who receive spinal or epidural anesthesia. A complete physical and health history must be accomplished to help diagnose arachnoiditis. MRI with contrast is used to verify the extent of the illness.
There is no complete cure for arachnoiditis as of date. The treatment is focused on chronic pain treatment, lessening pain and suffering of the patient and promoting optimum functioning despite the presence of this illness. Surgery is not recommended as a form of treatment as this may cause further adhesions and trauma, worsening the condition.
Physiotherapy would be recommended to preserve motor function, restore mobility and help patients remain physically active. Physiotherapy may include mild exercises that would not produce pain, massage, and hot or cold compresses to affected areas. Chiropractic therapy may also be done to ensure that the spinal alignment would be maintained and to allow for mobilization.
Exercise improves blood flow to the affected areas, and gentle exercises are recommended to ensure continuous mobility and use of muscles.
The pain and decreased mobility caused by this disease may lead to depression among those diagnosed with arachnoiditis. Psychotherapy would help these individuals cope with the problems caused by this disease as well as the damaging effects of the chronic pain.
Support groups would be very helpful for the individual, to help them know that they are not dealing with this condition alone and that they are assured that they have people to count on when they are in pain or suffering.
Learning more about arachnoiditis can help you manage the different symptoms you have and prevent further complications. Despite the statistics on this disease, there is always hope that a cure can be developed. Until then, individuals with arachnoiditis should keep fighting this disease.