Omidihealth was created by Michael Omidi - co-founder of NMP (No More Poverty) this blog is dedicated to providing its readers the latest news on the meningitis outbreak.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Meningitis and Arachnoiditis Risks
New England Compounding Center: Contaminated Batches
It is very frightening to think that the medications and drug treatments we hope will help us when we are sick or injured might actually cause problems that are immeasurably worse than the problems they were meant to cure. Even though only three batches of the drug methylprednisolone acetate have been found to be tainted with the fungi Aspergillus and Exserohilum, the medical havoc those three batches have caused haven’t yet been fully understood, and new conditions, symptoms and illnesses are appearing every day. Unfortunately, it appears that meningitis was not the only condition to have arisen from this crisis. The contaminated medications from the New England Compounding Center have caused not only fatal outbreaks of fungal meningitis, but also another dangerous condition known as arachnoiditis, for which there is no cure, and very little treatment.
What is Arachnoiditis?
Arachnoiditis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord. It can be caused by the introduction of a virus, bacteria, fungus or chemical into the spinal cord, or from spinal trauma or surgery. Arachnoiditis is extremely painful, and sufferers experience numerous debilitating symptoms, including difficulty controlling limbs, inability to sit for long periods of time, numbness, inability to walk for extended periods and inability to stand for long periods and burning pain in the legs and back. Many sufferers experience incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
Epidural Injections cause Arachnoiditis
Epidural injections (the injection of steroids or other medications near the spinal column) have long been the culprit of arachnoiditis. With the increase in steroid epidural injections, so came the increase of medical complications due to spinal trauma at the injection site. Although many back pain sufferers have experienced relief from sometimes crippling pain that can even radiate into the arms and legs, many physicians believe the technique is being overused. Until the meningitis outbreak, the risk of infection wasn’t being factored into an FDA review of the potential for catastrophic neurological injuries.
Arachnoiditis is a chronic condition. Treatments and pain management techniques vary, but surgery is discouraged because it is typically a painful procedure with long recovery time and only temporary relief. Many patients have had success with different physical and pain management therapies, but it is recommended that a specialist in the area be consulted because it is not a well known or widely experienced condition, and is often misdiagnosed as a pinched nerve.
Arachnoiditis Magnified Since Meningitis Outbreak
Although there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of research into the reversal of arachnoiditis, the recent health crisis might galvanize some activity. Now, most of the efforts of medical researchers seem to be in the arena of pain management in arachnoiditis sufferers rather than cure.
While the symptoms of and prognosis for arachnoiditis are scary, it should be noted that the severity of the symptoms varies significantly, depending upon the location of the inflammation. Some patients are able to lead a perfectly full life with the help of persistent emotional and physical therapies, as well as regular exercise.