Arachnoiditis is, in fact, a serious disorder that affects patients with real pain. The arachnoid is one of the membranes that encases the spinal cord, keeping it and the nerve branches safe. When this membrane becomes inflamed, it causes severe pain in the affected nerves. Over time it can lead to scar tissue around the nerves, leading to possible malfunction of the spinal nerves. Early diagnosis and treatment can slow the progression of the disease, but unfortunately, there is currently no cure for arachnoiditis. Proper treatment can help patients lead a normal life for a much longer period, much like with other pain disorders.
Surgery for arachnoiditis is a controversial option in the medical community. While it can be successful for some patients, even positive results are often short-lived. The surgery itself is difficult to perform, and relief from pain is often minimal. If you are certain about going down this route for treating arachnoiditis, do your research to find a doctor who is confident in the procedure and agrees this is the best route for you. Be sure to find a neurologist who has dealt with arachnoiditis successfully in the past, and listen to the advice they have on your treatment.
Physical therapy is a good treatment to maintain range of motion in patients with arachnoiditis. Appropriate therapies, including heat, ice, and massage will help patients retain their range of motion within a comfortable level. This helps improve and maintain a quality of life while managing the disease. Physical therapy exercises should be challenging without being painful.
Successful therapy hinges upon clear and honest communication between patient and therapist. Patients must follow all instructions precisely, and give accurate feedback about how they feel and how therapy is helping or not helping their daily activities. They should also be open to trying new therapeutic techniques, but be honest if it really takes them out of their comfort zone. Therapists will work with patients closely to find the most effective plan for their condition.
Although arachnoiditis is a pain-related disease, pain relief medications isn't an ideal course of treatment. Opioids, in particular, are a dangerous class of drugs recommended less and less due to the risk of patients becoming addicted. Instead, doctors are likely to recommend anti-inflammatory medication to patients instead. These come in two classes: steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Steroids are very hard on the body in the long term, so doctors will likely only recommend them to help control a flare-up. Once things have returned to the baseline, it is likely regular maintenance medication will be a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Anti-inflammatory medication, however, can have long-term adverse side effects if patients don’t follow their doctor’s and pharmacist’s directions precisely.
Neurologists may suggest patients use nerve stimulation in conjunction with medicinal treatment or if medication proves to be ineffective. Controlled stimulation of the nerves of the spinal cord can block pain signals and provide great relief. There are two forms of this treatment: invasive and non-invasive stimulation. The invasive form involves a surgical procedure to implant a stimulation unit onto the spinal cord. It provides a continuous current directly to the nerves.
There is a less invasive option known as transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. Electrode pads are attached to the skin above the affected area, and electricity is passed through the skin in the affected area. This option is effective during treatment and for a limited number of hours after electrodes are removed, but can be repeated as necessary. If you are looking for a zippy answer to pain without the maintenance of an implant, a home TENS unit could be the answer.
Acupuncture is the precise placement of needles on the body at various depths into the skin. It is an ancient practice, but modern science has yet to determine exactly how it works. Some individuals say it works by balancing the body’s energies, while others argue it interacts with the neurological system in a controlled manner. Regardless of why it works, studies have proven it is indeed an effective method of pain mitigation.
If you are frustrated with other pain control methods not working or if you prefer alternative or holistic treatment, acupuncture has the potential to provide effective pain management for arachnoiditis and other chronic pain conditions. As with any other treatment, it is important to find a reputable practitioner who has experience and success in their treatment area.