Arachnoiditis after epidurals and facet joint injections

by Nancy W
(Seal Beach, Ca)

Had 2 epidurals 4 years ago for low back pain. Had MRI which showed spondylolisthesis, (stage 1) mild scoliosis, spurs, arthritis. Saw Neurosurgeon, said NO surgery. Sent to a different pain Dr. He gave 2 epidurals over an 8 month period. No relief. Had Facet Joint Injection (Dr. said not the problem). Had SI joint injection (Dr. ruled that out). Had 2nd MRI one year after the second Dr. did the first of 2. Pain was getting worse. This time MRI showed Arachnoiditis; did not have it in 2017. Got it as result of 2018 epidural.

Tried Neurontin, made me dizzy. Tried Cymbalta, but didn't titrate properly off Zoloft, interaction nearly sent me to ER. Dr. wants me to try Lyrica. Scared to try it. Taking Aleve, and Norco (Norco not every day). I am 74.
QUESTION: COULD CHIROPRACTOR HELP LESSEN THE PAIN WITH GENTLE MANIPULATION? ACUPUNCTURE? MASSAGE? PHYSICAL THERAPY? I realize there is no cure, but I can't live like this. Afraid of drugs, wondering if the above treatment(s) might offer some relief?
Thank you,

Hello Nancy,
It's hard to comment from afar, not being abreast of all the details and not able to examine you. Plus, you need to be wary of any information received like this from the internet.
Firstly, you make no mention of leg pain; that means you had grade I lower back pain; personally it would seem to me that all that was totally unnecessary.

But you have obviously been totally taken in by the medical model, and only now considering the alternatives. It's late in the day and arachnoiditis is horrible.

You make mention of various drugs and injections, but again there is no mention that you are doing lower back exercises, taking a walk or swim every day.

Thirdly there's no mention of your diet and your physical condition. If you are insulin resistant then every cell of your body will be inflamed.

My thoughts are that the medical model hasn't worked for you, so it's time to consider the alternatives. Just as medicine has made your condition worse, it's not impossible that chiropractic could too - it's called iatrogenic, or doctor caused disease, so I would start with the most conservative treatments that you know will not make you worse.

First up, start doing some gentle lower back exercises every morning before you get out of bed, and several times a day. It's probably best you get some professional help on what to do, but you can find my favourites at Chiropractic Help. They take less than two minutes.

Then start walking and/or swimming every single day; you decide for how long. Sit less and choose your chairs carefully. Avoid the vacuum cleaner and the broom; bending and twisting.

Then find out about the anti-inflammatory diet; it's good to do anyway, even if it doesn't help. It will mean retraining your tongue to dislike all refined starches and to love salads and some fruit, especially if you are prediabetic. Have a HbA1c test done; it should be below 5.5.

Ask your husband to start massaging your back every evening, lying on your side. Perhaps see a sports masseuse.

Then after six weeks, if there is no change, then it's time to start looking for a thorough and conscientious chiropractor in your neck of the woods; talk to friends and family and even your medical doctor for a name. Don't expect miracles and don't be put off if the pain increases initially.

Print this out and give it to five of your friends to read; if they give you the thumbs up, then go for it. I hope this contributes; let me know in six weeks how you are doing.

It's called "I'm tired of pain," "I'm tired of pills" and "I want to get better." So much so that I'm willing to ring in the changes; it's probably not going to be easy, but the alternative is too ghastly to contemplate. Kiss bagels and chocolate cake, cheesecake and colas goodbye, for ever. Say hello to gentle daily exercise; it shouldn't hurt.

Dr B

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Nov 06, 2018
re: Dr. B reply
by: Nancy

Sorry if I failed to say that original reason for going to Dr. was low back pain due to pain that radiated down the left leg, from buttock to ankle, worse in buttock and calf. MRI showed disc issues, spurs, spondylolisthesis, and some arthritis. Epidural recommended. Had two in 2013. They did not help. Tried chiropractic, no worse no better. Had 2nd MRI in 2017. Showed same as above, but spinal stenosis was worse. Different pain dr. recommended trying another epidural. Had one in late 2017 and another mid 2018. Pain seemed to be getting worse. Dr. authorized another MRI. .It now shows worsening stenosis, spurs, etc. PLUS arachnoiditis. Surgery not recommended, as it could cause paralysis. No surgeon wants to operate on someone with Arachnoidits. Going to PT today, first visit. Going for massage in a week. Going for acupuncture in two weeks. Desperate to get some relief w/o getting hooked on Norco/Aleve. Have not done exercises, going to learn which are best for me. Have no access to a pool. Can walk, but it's very painful. Tend to be sedentary. Hate it. Love to shop, get out, but pain makes it just not worth the effort most days. I hope this clears up whatever data was missing from first post to you. Can exercise and massage help with arachnoiditis and nerve damage?


Do two little tests for me please:
1. Sitting in a kitchen chair, flex your head onto your chest and then ask hubby to raise your good leg parallel to the ground, then the naughty one. What happens?

2. Very slowly and carefully as this can make it worse, slowly bend forwards, then backwards, and then to each side. Report exactly what you feel in each of these positions. Be precise, write it down as you do it.

As those who want to avoid teeth problems must brush and floss daily, those who want to avoid diabetes and obesity must avoid refined carbs, those who want relief from back pain should be doing gentle lower back exercises every single morning before getting out of bed. As the PT for help; gentle stuff, you're not preparing for a place in the Winter Olympics!

Massage only lying on your side initially.

Dr B

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