Adhesive Arachnoiditis - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/17/04

Adhesive Arachnoiditis

Adhesive arachnoiditis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the tissue surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. Scar tissue can form which can press on nerves and block the flow of blood and spinal fluid. On occasion, nerves may be 'glued' together. It can be very serious and painful.

Arachnoiditis can be caused by several things:

  • Infection or meningitis can begin the inflammatory process;
  • Trauma from such things as surgery or spinal injections;
  • The chemicals and preservatives used in spinal injections.

Unfortunately, the pain can be caused by an attempt to prevent or cure pain. It can be a side effect of spinal anesthesia and spinal injections used as treatments for low back pain. Dyes used in diagnostic radiology have been implicated as well as the preservatives in inject able anesthetics.

Symptoms include shooting pains described like electrical shocks and tingling and numbness especially in the legs. There can be muscle cramps and spasms. Some people complain of strange sensations such as water trickling on the skin. Pain is constant, hard to control and considered disabling. It is diagnosed by an MRI or CT scan.

Treatment of Adhesive arachnoiditis consists of pain medications including NSAIDS, steroids, muscle relaxants, and sometimes narcotics. Physical therapy and massage may help. Electrical nerve stimulation provided by a device that sends electrical current to certain nerves is sometimes used. Surgery is not recommended because it may just cause more trauma.

As with many chronic problems, people who suffer from AA may have to learn to live with it-even though it may cause severe disability. Pain clinics can provide the all around treatment necessary. Support groups are also very helpful when patients can share problems and solutions.

Two excellent web sites that explain the syndrome in detail are:
http://www.cofwa.org/Arachnoiditis.htm
http://uscneurosurgery.com/glossary/a/arachnoiditis.htm

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