Wendy Anderson, MD
Everyone at some stage of life will experience back pain. The causes, severity, duration, treatments and outcomes will vary, but for some it becomes a life long problem. Among this group of back sufferers will be those who develop Arachnoiditis, an unusual name for a devastating affliction of chronic intractable pain, neurological deficits and disability. In such cases there is likely to be a history of:-
- disc disease or spinal trauma
- myelograms performed for investigation
- epidural injections with steroids or anesthetics
- spinal surgery.
It is not known why some people develop an inflammatory reaction in response to events such as the above. If the inflammation becomes chronic the nerve roots are damaged and the spinal cord may undergo secondary degeneration.
There are many symptoms associated with arachnoiditis. The most debilitating is pain; other manifestations are the result of sensory, motor and autonomic nerve dysfunction.
Additional symptoms include headaches, sore throat, low grade fevers, difficulty swallowing, heat intolerance, visual disturbances, chronic fatigue.
For various reasons many patients have great difficulty obtaining a diagnosis. Almost all arachnoiditis sufferers have the experience at some time of being considered to have functional disorders and may be referred for psychological assessment.
As there is no known cure treatment is directed at promoting the best quality of life possible in the circumstances. This involves treatment of symptoms, with pain management being the main consideration, and appropriate disability aids.
If you think that the above problems could apply to you, and you want to know more, then read on....