Causes and Symptoms of Arachnoiditis


Arachnoiditis is a pain condition caused by inflammation of the arachnoid membranes that protect the nerves of the spinal column and brain. The inflammation causes scar tissue to form causing nerve damage and pain.


Arachnoiditis can be caused by various things, such as direct trauma to the spine; spinal surgery, spinal tap or bleeding in the spine; prolapsed discs that press on the spinal cord; viral or bacterial infections, such as meningitis and tuberculosis; radiographic contrast media (dye) once used for myelograms (no longer used); and degenerative disc conditions, such as spinal stenosis. The preservatives found in epidural injections are also currently raising concern as a cause of arachnoiditis.


Symptoms vary depending on which area of the spine is affected. Arachnoiditis can involve the nerves connecting the lower back, legs, buttocks and feet. In all cases, it causes pain in the affected area. Other symptoms include numbness, tingling or a sensation of insects crawling on the skin; burning or electric shock sensations; spasms, muscle cramps or twitching; weakness, trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance; severe headaches; vision and hearing problems; nausea; bladder or bowel problems; sleep issues or fatigue; depression; and sexual dysfunction. Symptoms may increase in severity or become permanent as the condition progresses. Arachnoiditis can range from mild and annoying to very painful and limiting.

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