Arachnoiditis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:

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Overview

Arachnoiditis is a neuropathic disease caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord. The arachnoid can become inflamed because of an irritation from chemicals, infection from bacteria or viruses, as the result of direct injury to the spine, chronic compression of spinal nerves, or complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures. Inflammation can sometimes lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, which cause the spinal nerves to "stick" together.

Historical Perspective

Classification

Pathophysiology

Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular No underlying causes
Chemical/Poisoning No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Cytarabine, Cytarabine liposome, Iodixanol
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine No underlying causes
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic No underlying causes
Hematologic No underlying causes
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease No underlying causes
Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic No underlying causes
Neurologic No underlying causes
Nutritional/Metabolic No underlying causes
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic No underlying causes
Ophthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose/Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal/Electrolyte No underlying causes
Rheumatology/Immunology/Allergy No underlying causes
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Miscellaneous No underlying causes

Causes in Alphabetical Order

List the causes of the disease in alphabetical order. You may need to list across the page, as seen here

Differentiating Arachnoiditis from Other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Screening

Natural History

Complications

Prognosis

Arachnoiditis is a chronic disorder and there is no known cure at this time. Pain management techniques may provide some relief to patients. Prognosis may be hard to determine because of the lack of correlation between the beginning of the disease and the start of symptoms. For many, arachnoiditis is a disabling disease that causes chronic pain and neurological deficits. It may also lead to other spinal cord conditions, such as syringomyelia.

Diagnosis

Diagnostic Criteria

History and Symptoms

The swollen arachnoid can lead to a host of painful and debilitating symptoms. Chronic pain is common, including neuralgia. Numbness and tingling of the extremities is frequent in patients due to spinal cord involvement. Bowel, bladder, and sexual functioning can be affected if the lower part of the spinal cord is affected. While arachnoiditis has no consistent pattern of symptoms, it frequently affects the nerves that supply the legs and lower back.

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies

Treatment

Arachnoiditis is a difficult condition to treat. Treatment is limited to alleviation of pain and other symptoms. Surgical intervention generally has a poor outcome and only provides temporary relief. Steroid injection is generally discouraged and may worsen the condition.

Medical Therapy

Surgery

Prevention

Future or Investigational Therapies

Recent research has indicated that a group of chemicals called cytokines that are produced by various cells in the body may be responsible for generating the pain response. Medications that affect the release of cytokines or block the action of cytokines may reduce the pain response. Various anti-cytokine medications are now being used to treat painful disease states such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn's Disease. In a recent study the anti-cytokine medication, Thalidomide, is being evaluated for its effect in treating pain associated with Arachnoiditis.

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