Arachnoiditis is a growing but unfortunately rarely discussed topic. Today I would like to introduce you to what it is, how patients get it and what the possible answers are.
As you know, the brain and nervous system are bathed in fluid and surrounded by gentle membranes. These membranes help to protect and nourish the brain, spinal cord, and the beginnings of the nerve roots.
It is a very delicate and intricate system.
Everyone has heard of meningitis, and you know that this is an inflammation of the meninges primarily surrounding the brain and spinal cord which causes headache, fever, significant illness, and sometimes death. It is caused by variety of bacteria and viruses primarily.
Now while meningitis typically affects the brain, arachnoiditis affects the spinal cord, primarily in the low back area.
The most common causes of arachnoiditis according to Medical News Today (1) are:
“-injury during spinal surgery, which accounts for about 60 percent of cases
-myelography, when a dye is injected into the spinal column
-exposure to chemicals that damage the meninges
-injections into the spine, such as following an epidural
-viral and bacterial infections of the spine
-physical trauma to the spine, such as from a car accident
-cancer in or around the spine
- An exceedingly small number of arachnoiditis cases are genetic.”
Our biggest concern is the the sheer number of arachnoiditis cases associated with invasive procedures including spinal injections and back surgeries.
Before we go any further let's be clear.
As we say repeatedly here good health care is always about risks versus benefits. So, if you or a loved one it needs any invasive spinal procedure to save your life or limb these are the best use of medical care.
Our concern is when these invasive procedures are done prior to or instead of noninvasive procedures whenever possible.
A prime example is treating chronic back pain using spinal injections as an almost first-line therapy which has exploded in recent years. Often, these injections are recommended before exhausting conservative and noninvasive therapy like Chiropractic & Osteopathic manual therapy and other safe end inexpensive modalities like Ultrasound, Microcurrent Therapy, Laser, TENS, NDGen®) etc.
After surgery, inflammation and even allergic reactions to medications or preservatives used in drugs during surgery can also set the stage for scaring and adhesion of these tissues. (2)
The net result including arachnoiditis can be effects which may vary from mild pain to brutal unrelenting pain combined with other signs of nerve damage including weakness and paralysis.
Again, our biggest his concern is when surgery and spinal injections are performed instead of 100% exhausting all alternative measures first whenever possible.
Again, we are NOT talking about life-saving procedures and cases in which there’s no alternative to surgery or injections.
NEXT TIME WE'LL TALK MUCH MORE ABOUT THIS AND WHAT OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT WE HAVE FOUND MOST HELPFUL...