Spinal Cord Stimulation Can Relieve Arachnoiditis

Arachnoiditis is not related to spiders, but one of its symptoms is a creepy-crawly sensation. It is a rare condition of a web-like spinal membrane that is difficult to treat; however, spinal cord stimulation is proving to be a highly effective to relieve arachnoiditis symptoms.

With only about 11,000 cases diagnosed each year, this condition causes scarring of the layers surrounding the spinal nerves. Inflammation causes the nerves to stick together and create scar tissue, which presses against the nerve roots that exit the spine.

What Does Arachnoiditis Feel Like?

The condition presents differently in everyone. It can be as mild as a creeping skin sensation or as severe as muscle cramps and spams or sharp electric shock-like pain. In some people, it can cause bladder, bowel or sexual problems.“Sometimes the same patient can have all these symptoms at once or at different times,” says Dr. Abraham Rivera, Chief Medical Officer of Physician Partners of America in Tampa. “It’s the kind of condition that few doctors ever encounter.”

Arachnoiditis treatment

Arachnoiditis is commonly linked to impurities that enter the fluid surrounding the spinal column. This can happen accidentally during medical procedures like spinal taps, myelograms and epidurals. It can also be a unique reaction to preservatives used in certain injectable medicine.

New Ways to Treat Arachnoiditis

Prescription opioid medication has been a go-to treatment for arachnoiditis pain relief, but the side effects of a systemic treatment can outweigh the temporary relief. Interventional pain management specialists, who treat the root of pain conditions, have found greater success with spinal cord stimulation (SCS). Also known as neurostimulation, this treatment delivers a mild electrical current to the affected area. This current serves to counter the pain signals to the brain with a light tingling.

Spinal cord stimulators are implanted in a minimally invasive procedure performed outpatient, meaning the patient can go home the same day. The devicecombines a thin, flexible lead attached to a small generator placed under the skin. The patient controls the intensity of the stimulation using a handheld Bluetooth device. Some generators are changed out every few years, but the newest models are externally rechargeable.

How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?

Spinal cord stimulation therapy begins with a trial period:temporary electrodes are put in place using careful x-ray guidance, and the patient controls the current using an external device.

If both patient and physician agree that the trial offers adequate pain relief, the permanent device is implanted in the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. The generator is placed under the skin in the abdomen or lower back, and the two are connected with an extension wire.

Spinal cord stimulators are one of the few fully reversible chronic pain treatments. A skilled physician can remove the lead and generator in a short outpatient procedure. The lead is threaded down the spine in the epidural space, and the generator is placed under the skin in the lower back. The two are connected by a thin, flexible extension wire. The patient may be awakened briefly during the procedure to make sure the right nerves are being targeted.

Spinal cord stimulation is successfully used to treat many other severe, chronic pain conditions, such as lasting pain after back surgery (failed back syndrome), peripheral neuropathy and complex regional pain syndrome. Results also show promise for arachnoiditis,

“For the right patient, spinal cord stimulation can successfully treat the symptoms associated with arachnoiditis,” says Dr. Rivera.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *