The arachnoid is a membrane that surrounds the spinal cord nerves. When it becomes inflamed and painful, that’s known as arachnoiditis. Chronic inflammation can cause scar tissue and push the spinal nerves too close together, leading to chronic pain and neurological issues.
There may be no obvious cause of the inflammation of the arachnoid, but some sufferers can trace it to a bacterial or viral infection, a spinal injury or a reaction to chemicals. Arachnoiditis is also a risk associated with some types of spinal surgeries or procedures. It typically affects older adults or those who have had compressed spinal cords or surgeries.
Most people with arachnoiditis have some pain and inflammation. For many sufferers, the nerves that connect to the lower back and the legs are affected and can cause tingling and weakness in those areas. You may feel odd tickling sensations like water droplets are running down your leg.
In some people, the nerves can be more impacted. Muscle cramps and spasms as well as shooting pains can result. Eventually, bladder and bowel function may be compromised, and sexual function is reduced. These symptoms can become permanent if the condition continues.
There’s no easy way to treat arachnoiditis. Surgery is not proven to provide long-term relief, and can lead to other complications. Most medical professionals choose to treat the chronic pain through medications, exercise and physical therapy.
Some doctors may suggest that you try steroid injections or electrical stimulation, but these often have only short-term results.