Humans are able to think far more superiorly that animals can and are able to have higher cognitive ability due to the complex brain system. This is supported by the spinal cord that enables the body to move and for basic organs to function. Any hindrance to the spinal cord that connects the brain to all parts of the body can cause discomfort and possible disability either temporary or permanent. In such cases, a person will find doctors to get answers. We will be learning more about arachnoiditis and is it possible to recover from it.
What does the spinal cord or brain have to do with arachnoiditis? Arachnoiditis is a disorder characterised by inflammation of the membranes known as the arachnoid. The arachnoid is one of the layers that protect the nerves of the spinal cord, apart from the dura mater and pia mater. The arachnoid can be inflamed for various reasons such as irritation from chemicals such as epidural steroid injections, infections such as tuberculosis bacteria or viruses, direct injury to the spine such as from accidents or trauma, chronic compressions of spinal nerves such as in advanced spinal stenosis and complications from spinal surgery or spinal procedures such as from lumbar puncture.
Symptoms of arachnoiditis can greatly vary as it can be very mild to severe cases. This is supported by the rare case of arachnoiditis which means many mild cases go unnoticed or are not reported. When arachnoiditis begins to affect the function of the spinal nerves, common symptoms such as chronic pain and abnormal sensation such as numbness, tingling, stinging and burning pain in the lower back or legs are often reported by patients. Some may experience problems with bowel movement and passing urine. Joint pain, muscle cramps, twitches or spasms may occur in those with arachnoiditis. Serious cases of arachnoiditis may cause lower limbs to be paralysed.
Diagnosing arachnoiditis may be difficult especially in mild cases but imaging tests such as CAT scan or MRI can help healthcare professionals to detect changes in the arachnoid. Electromyogram (EMG) may be done to evaluate the severity of the damages caused by arachnoiditis. Usage of myelograms with radiographic contrast or dye that is combined with CAT scan has been used in diagnosing arachnoiditis to get clear details of the most subtle signs of this disease.
Although arachnoiditis is not life-threatening, the symptoms it causes may make a person have a poor quality of life. This is because the symptoms may impair their daily activities and feel discomfort for almost their entire life. Treatments aim to help reduce the pain which in hope could improve their quality of life and manage the symptoms. Simply said, treatments for arachnoiditis are similar to those with other chronic pain conditions. Healthcare professionals often recommend these patients to be involved in programs such as pain management, physiotherapy and exercises. Pain management can range from using pain medications such as common painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids or even narcotic drugs. You may even see drugs prescribed may be similar to what is given to people with mental disorders such as anticonvulsant and antidepressant to help curb the pain, especially abnormal sensation like burning pain. Since pain is inevitable, psychotherapy can help patients to understand what they can do to help manage their emotions and for them to have a less stressful life.
In essence, there is no cure for arachnoiditis. For a person to recover from arachnoiditis, is to live with the pain. Having a clear discussion with a healthcare provider can help a person manage the pain and for them to be able to have a fulfilling life. It is worth noting that arachnoiditis may or may not be progressive. Hence, regular medical check up is important to help manage the symptoms.