What causes arachnoiditis?

Arachnoiditis has many possible causes, including:

  • mechanical injury during spinal surgery, or complications from spinal surgery (about 60% of cases)
  • trauma to the spinal cord
  • one or more spinal taps
  • steroid epidural injections or other injections
  • spinal and epidural anesthesia
  • myelography
  • bacterial or viral spinal infections

The initial symptoms of arachnoiditis are caused by inflammation of the arachnoid, and the formation of scar tissue and adhesions later cause the more severe symptoms as the condition progresses.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Is arachnoiditis inherited?

Arachnoiditis is generally not an inherited condition and typically results from inflammation due to prior spinal surgery, other procedures on the spine (such as injections), trauma, or infection. Familial cases of arachnoiditis have very rarely been reported. To our knowledge, only two families with multiple affected family members have been described in the literature, with possible autosomal dominant or multigenic inheritance (due to the interaction of multiple genes).

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with arachnoiditis?

Arachnoiditis causes chronic pain and neurological deficits. The disease does not improve significantly with treatment and does not have a predictable pattern of symptoms, severity, or progression. Some people with arachnoiditis may have milder symptoms which do not get much worse over time, although the aging process usually does add to the severity of the symptoms. Others may quickly progress to severe neurological symptoms that lead to paralysis. The majority of people with arachnoiditis appear to fall somewhere between these extremes.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might arachnoiditis be treated?

Arachnoiditis is difficult to treat. Management aims to relieve pain and improve symptoms that impair fuction. Treatment may involve pain management, physical therapy, and psychotherapy. Surgical intervention is controversial because it generally provides only short-term relief and may increase the formation of scar tissue, making the condition worse.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where To Start

American Academy of Neurology Information Page

The American Academy of Neurology has written a summary on this condition. Click on American Academy of Neurology to view the article.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA, 95677-0850 , United States
Phone: 916-632-0922 Toll Free: 800-533-3231 Fax : 916-652-8190 Email: Url:
Name: Pain Relief Foundation Clinical Sciences Centre University Hospital Aintree, Lower Lane
Liverpool L9 7AL
United Kingdom
Phone: 0151 529 5820 Fax : 0151 529 5821 Email: Url:
Name: Arachnoiditis & Chronic Meningitis Collaborative Research Network ACMCRN Url:

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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