Living with Arachnoiditis


Arachnoiditis is a painful condition of the spine. It involves inflammation of the arachnoid, which is the middle of three membranes that surround and protect the brain and the nerves of the spinal cord.” (1)

Although there are similarities in symptoms from patient to patient there is no consistent pattern that this disorder adheres to. Arachnoiditis has the ability to affect the nerves connecting the lower back, legs, buttock, or feet. In all cases the inflammation that is sustained causes intense pain in the injured area.

Other symptoms include:

· Numbness/tingling or a sense of pins-and-needles

· Burning sensations or that of an electric shock often affecting the lower back and possibly radiating down the legs

· Spasms, muscle cramps, and uncontrollable twitching

· A sensation that feels “as if” insects are crawling on the skin

· Weakness and trouble walking

· Severe headaches

· Vision and hearing problems

· Dizziness and loss of balance

· Nausea, bladder or bowel problems

· Loss of sleep, fatigue, and depression

· Along with others (sexual dysfunction, ringing in the ears, etc)

Arachnoiditis can be caused in several different ways. “Inflammation of the arachnoid can lead to the formation of scar tissue and can cause the spinal nerves to stick together and malfunction.” (2) Even though this disorder often starts after surgery, injury, or epidural injection into the spine there are multiple causes.

These causes include:

· The spine has sustained a direct injury

· Epidural injections used during labor/delivery or to treat disk conditions

· Spinal surgery, spinal tap, and bleeding in the spine

· Prolapsed disk that presses on your spinal cord

· Viral or bacterial infections [meningitis and tuberculosis] which can affect the spine

· Myelogram which is used in accordance with X-rays or CT scans to detect spinal cord problems

· Degenerative disc disease [spinal stenosis] that compresses and narrows the spinal column

Symptoms may become more sever or permanent as the condition progresses. The possibility of becoming disabled and/or unable to work is very real. Arachnoiditis should not be taken lightly. It can be very painful and limiting. This condition is worked with similar to other chronic pain conditions. Although there is no cure for arachnoiditis there are methods that can be used to lessen the symptoms restoring some normalcy to everyday life. It is often recommended to work with a combined program of pain management, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and exercise.

Some of the treatment methods include:

· Physical therapy including but not limited to: massage, heat and cold treatment, water therapy, and exercise.

· Opioids to help relieve severe pain. These can become addictive and have side effects. They should be used with caution.

· Talk therapy as a means of coping because many people with this condition can experience depression. Arachnoiditis causes not only physical pain, but also emotional [pain]. Through this form of therapy you will be able to address the mood changes that this condition can create.

“Daily Activity Checklist To successfully manage your fibromyalgia, it’s important to focus on your ability to function, not just your level of pain. This checklist can help you to see where you are having difficulties with everyday activities. It also is a useful way to communicate your progress to your health care professional.” (3)

Although this checklist was created for fibromyalgia patients it can be tailored to be used for your arachnoiditis condition. Little things are often over looked from day to day. Yet, if you go through the checklist, even weekly, you will be more aware of your overall health.

These are things to monitor on a regular basis while giving them conscious thought as to how they affect your day to day life.

Sitting for more than 1 hour


Lifting more than 5 pounds

Working at the computer


Light yard/house work


Personal Hygiene

Visiting with family/friends


Attending social functions

Child care


Job responsibilities

Sexual intimacy

These activities may be done with different degrees of ease or difficulty including:



Extra Effort

Some Effort

Easy to Do

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