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Old 11-16-2004, 03:32 AM
Alastair Alastair is offline
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What is Arachnoiditis?

Arachnoiditis describes a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord. The arachnoid can become inflamed because of an irritation from chemicals, infection from bacteria or viruses, as the result of direct injury to the spine, chronic compression of spinal nerves, or complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures. Inflammation can sometimes lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, which cause the spinal nerves to "stick" together. If arachnoiditis begins to interfere with the function of one or more of these nerves, it can cause a number of symptoms, including numbness, tingling, and a characteristic stinging and burning pain in the lower back or legs. Arachnoiditis has no consistent pattern of symptoms, but it more frequently affects the nerves that supply the lower back and legs.

Is there any treatment?

Arachnoiditis remains a difficult condition to treat, and long-term outcomes are unpredictable. Most treatments for arachnoiditis are focused on pain relief and the improvement of symptoms that impair daily function. A regimen of pain management, physiotherapy, exercise, and psychotherapy is often recommended. Surgical intervention is controversial since the outcomes are generally poor and provide only short-term relief. Clinical trials of steroid injections and electrical stimulation are needed to determine the efficacy of these treatments.

What is the prognosis?

Arachnoiditis appears to be a chronic pain disorder that is not progressive, but does not improve significantly with treatment. Prognosis is often complicated by the lack of a clear relationship between time of onset and pattern of symptoms. Aging and pre-existing spinal disorders can make accurate prognosis problematic. For many, arachnoiditis is a disabling disease that causes chronic pain and neurological deficits.

What research is being done?

Within the NINDS research programs, arachnoiditis is addressed primarily through studies associated with pain research. The NINDS vigorously pursues a research program seeking new treatments for pain and nerve damage with the ultimate goal of reversing debilitating conditions such as arachnoiditis.
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