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Rare Diseases 2023

Arachnoiditis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Arachnoiditis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Arachnoiditis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Arachnoiditis is inflammation of the arachnoid, a membrane that lines and protects the brain and spinal cord nerves. This type of inflammation can arise due to a virus or bacterial infection, but it can also be the result of a strong blow to the spine, chronic compression of the spinal nerves, use of some chemicals, application of anesthesia or pain relievers directly to the spine, as well as complication of spinal surgery.

This type of inflammation is more common in the spine and can appear anywhere, from the cervical, thoracic or lumbar region. Depending on where the arachnoiditis appears and the nerves affected, different types of symptoms can arise. The most common tend to include persistent chronic pain, tingling, and muscle cramps, particularly in the legs.

Treatment of arachnoiditis is difficult and must be well guided by a neurologist to control symptoms and prevent further complications from arising. The prognosis of this type of condition is always very reserved, since the pattern of evolution of its symptoms is not known.

Main symptoms

The symptoms of arachnoiditis can vary according to the affected site, however, the most common symptoms are:

  • Persistent chronic pain;
  • Burning sensation in limbs;
  • Tingling in limbs;
  • Cramping and Muscle Spasms;
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control.

As arachnoiditis progresses, it is common for nerves and blood vessels to become "glued together", which ends up causing worsening of pain and all neurological symptoms.For this reason, treatment should be started as soon as possible to try to control pain and stabilize the progression of inflammation.

How to confirm the diagnosis

Although it is important to start treatment as soon as possible, diagnosing arachnoiditis can be time consuming, as there are other less serious conditions that can produce similar symptoms, such as nerve compression from a herniated disc, for example.

However, when arachnoiditis is suspected, the doctor may order a CT scan as well as an MRI scan to identify the presence of inflammation in the spinal column.

How the treatment is done

There is no treatment capable of curing arachnoiditis and, therefore, in most cases, the neurologist aims to relieve chronic pain and control other symptoms, to improve the person's quality of life. One of the most used forms of treatment is physiotherapy, which can help a lot in controlling pain, but also in improving the neurological deficits that may arise.

Surgery may be an option in some cases, but is usually used as a last resort when other forms of treatment have not been successful. This is because surgery can cause temporary relief, but there is a risk of complications.

In cases where arachnoiditis was caused by cancer, autoimmune conditions, or infections such as tuberculosis, these causes should also be properly treated to lessen symptoms and treat arachnoiditis.

People with arachnoiditis should also undergo psychotherapy to learn how to deal with stress and the limitations imposed by the condition, promoting their mental he alth.

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