Clumping of nerve roots

The clumping of nerve roots and blood vessels is the main symptom of arachnoiditis — a rare and debilitating pain disorder that can affect the spine and brain. Arachnoiditis is characterized by inflammation of the arachnoid mater, also known as the arachnoid meninge, which is one of the membranes that line the brain and spinal column.

You may be surprised to learn that the inflammation of the critical arachnoid membrane is both a cause and a symptom. When inflammation leads to scarring, the nerve roots stick together, causing chronic compression of spinal nerve roots, which causes more inflammation.

Symptoms and risk factors

Constant pain in the lower back, legs or throughout the entire body are the main symptoms of arachnoiditis. Other common symptoms include:

  • Shooting pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in lower limbs
  • Twitching and muscle spasms
  • Tactile hallucinations, especially along the legs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, which indicates an emergency condition requiring immediate care
  • Paralysis of lower body, which also is an emergency condition requiring immediate treatment

Risk factors for developing arachnoiditis include:

  • Trauma of the arachnoid mater, usually as a result of multiple spinal surgeries
  • The introduction of blood, medications, dyes, anesthetics or other chemicals into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your spinal cord
  • Localized infection

Treatment and prevention

While there is no cure for arachnoiditis, there are treatments that may help ease or control symptoms. Be aware that certain treatments, such as epidural steroid injections or traditional open spine surgery, can often worsen the condition. It’s very important to follow your physician’s orders carefully; do not attempt any treatment without prior approval.

If you’ve experienced any of the painful symptoms commonly associated with arachnoiditis, keep in mind that these symptoms mimic the symptoms of several different spine conditions, such as a herniated disc or sciatica. If you experience any of the above symptoms, visit a physician to receive a proper diagnosis.

If your physician recommends surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery holds many advantages as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers both minimally invasive decompression, and in severe cases, stabilization procedures, to treat a wide range of degenerative spine conditions.

Minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat arachnoiditis also carries less risk of infection and complication than traditional open spine surgery, as well as less risk of failed back surgery syndrome.

For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute. We’ll provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine your eligibility for our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.