Arachnoiditis is a chronic pain disorder caused by inflammation of the arachnoid – a membrane that surrounds the nerves of the spinal cord. The Spinal Foundation, defines the disorder as “the clumping together and tethering of the descending nerves to the inner lining of the water jacket that contains the fluid that supports brain and the cord in the spinal canal.” Those experiencing arachnoiditis syndrome may experience various combinations of severe back, buttock and leg pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. While symptoms aren’t consistent, patients have complained of a feeling of pins and needles, cold or scalding water, or a sensation of ants crawling up and down the body. The severity of symptoms usually depends on the extent and location of the injurious event, according to the National Organization for Rare Diseases.


There are numerous causes of arachnoiditis, including:

  • Direct mechanical injuries caused by surgical interventions, especially repeat spinal operations.
  • Trauma to the spinal cord.
  • Chemicals, such as those used in myelograms and epidurals.
  • Infection from bacteria and viruses such as meningitis or tuberculosis.

The rare disorder impacts more females than males, since many pregnant women receive spinal or epidural anesthesia during delivery. About 4% of them develop arachnoiditis due to complications from anesthesia.

Diagnosis Is Difficult

Because those suffering with arachnoiditis syndrome present a confusing combination of symptoms noted above, and symptoms generally differ from those normally considered to be caused by irritation or compression of a single nerve, diagnosis can be difficult. The patient may easily be labeled as psychologically distressed or as a malingerer. CAT scans and MRIs have helped with diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Currently, there is no cure for arachnoiditis. Therapies such as physical therapy, medication, and psychotherapy, have been known to lessen pain, and are usually recommended in combination. Surgery remains controversial among healthcare providers.

At Lipkin & Apter, we understand how hard life can become with chronic pain and the personal and financial toll of missing work and numerous doctor visits and tests. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with arachnoiditis, you may have a case. Having a strong knowledge of what arachnoiditis is, consistent medical documentation, and a strong legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Lipkin & Apter and set up a free consultation.