Arachnoiditis is a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surrounds and protects the nerves of the spinal cord. It is characterized by severe stinging, burning pain, and neurological problems.
Symptoms of Arachnoiditis
Arachnoiditis has no consistent pattern of symptoms, but in many people it affects the nerves connecting to the lower back and legs. The most common symptom is pain, but arachnoiditis can also cause:
Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the legs
Sensations that may feel like insects crawling on the skin or water trickling down the leg
Severe shooting pain that can be similar to an electric shock sensation
Muscle cramps, spasms and uncontrollable twitching
Bladder, bowel and sexual problems
As the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe or even permanent. Many people with Arachnoiditis are unable to work and suffer significant disability because they are in constant pain. Biocranial Natural Treatment has been very effective in managing Arachnoiditis without the need of medications.
Causes of Arachnoiditis
Inflammation of the arachnoid can lead to the formation of scar tissue and can cause the spinal nerves to stick together and malfunction. The arachnoid can become inflamed because of an irritation from one of the following sources:
Direct injury to the spine.
Chemicals: Dye used in myelograms (diagnostic tests in which a dye called radiographic contrast media is injected into the area surrounding the spinal cord and nerves) have been blamed for some cases of arachnoiditis. The radiographic contrast media responsible for this is no longer used, however. Also, there is concern that the preservatives found in epidural steroid injections may cause arachnoiditis.
Infection from bacteria or viruses: Infections such as viral and fungal meningitis or tuberculosis can affect the spine.
Chronic compression of spinal nerves: Causes for this compression include chronic degenerative disc disease or advanced spinal stenosis (narrowing of spinal column).
Complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures: Similar causes include multiple lumbar (lower back) punctures.
Diagnosing arachnoiditis can be difficult, but tests such as the CAT scan (computerized axial tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) have helped with diagnosis. A test called an electromyogram (EMG) can assess the severity of the ongoing damage to affected nerve roots by using electrical impulses to check nerve function.
Note: Myelograms with the radiographic contrast currently in use, combined with CAT scanning, are not considered to be responsible for causing arachnoiditis or causing it to worsen.
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Assessing Your Status
Other than some obvious signs―puffy gums, sore joints, chronic stuffiness―how can you tell if your inflammation levels are higher than they should be? Several tests can be useful here.
C-Reactive Protein is a simple blood test that measures levels of C-reactive protein(CRP), a powerful inflammatory marker. The production of C-reactive protein is an essential part of the inflammatory process, and the measurement of this substance reflects the level of inflammatory activity deep within the body. We believe measuring inflammation with a high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein test is one of the most important steps you can take if you have had cancer. If the results are elevated, above 1.0, then it’s time to take action to bring levels down. You might want to keep running that test on a three-month interval. If you don’t have cancer but have risk factors, you may want to run the test on an annual basis as part of your regular physical exam.
An important contributor to blood clotting, fibrinogen levels rise in reaction to inflammation. For this reason, if inflammation levels are high, it may be wise to check fibrinogen levels as well. The Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org) advises that optimal fibrinogen levels should range between 215 and 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. Bringing levels into normal range has the added benefit of keeping the blood flowing more smoothly, making it more difficult for metastases to develop.
Food sensitivity panel
If your inflammatory markers remain stubbornly high, consider the possibility of food allergies or sensitivities. Common allergens like casein (from dairy) and gluten (from wheat) are known to spark an inflammatory cascade in sensitive individuals. So, another measure to cool inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your foods that may cause headaches, digestive upset or skin eruptions like acne or eczema. Keep in mind that as we age, foods that may not have bothered us before, like dairy and wheat, may trigger chronic low-grade inflammation. Even seemingly innocuous foods, when eaten repeatedly, can cause a food sensitivity to develop. If you think you might have a food sensitivity, we recommend going on an elimination diet for two weeks to see how you feel.
Thermography as an assessment of Breast Inflammation
Breast thermography provides one of the best visual clues we have to the presence of inflammation in breast tissue. Since inflammation often accompanies precancerous changes to the breast, and since it always produces heat, measuring the temperature of the breasts can provide us with vital information.
Temperature measurement as a means of assessing health has its roots in ancient Greece, when Hippocrates covered his patients’ bodies with thin slurry of mud and observed temperature differences around diseased organs. With the advent of military infrared heat detection technology, specialized cameras were developed that could produce a detailed picture showing how the heat is distributed over the body. This picture could then be analyzed with computer software to determine regions of abnormal heat, suggesting injury or disease.
When it comes to breast health, here’s how it works, according to Dr. Robert Kane, a Board Certified Clinical Thermologist who maintains a busy thermal imaging interpretation practice in Redwood City, CA. “Heat is produced in the breast by normal tissue metabolism and is carried to the surface by the blood supply,” says Kane. “Our bodies naturally release heat to the environment in the form of infrared energy to maintain a normal body temperature of 98.6 deg F. This energy can be captured and visualized by a special infrared detector inside the thermography camera.” (Kane. 2011)
Normal breast tissue will produce a characteristic temperature pattern when visualized with thermography. On the other hand, fast-growing, abnormal breast tissue (cancer or precancerous) will always produce heat through its faster metabolism. This heat travels through the circulatory system to the surface of the skin where it can be detected using a thermographic camera (Yahara, et al. 2003)
What’s more, precancerous or cancerous tissue can dilate existing blood vessels and create its own blood supply via a process called neoangiogenesis or new blood vessel formation. (Anbar, M. 1994) Both of these occurrences can translate into a temperature changes at the surface of the breast and provide a means of detection with the thermographic camera.
Thermography findings are less dependent on the size of the abnormal tissue and are more directly related with the degree of inflammation, growth rate of the tissue and metabolic activity. (Gautherie. 1982) The more inflamed, aggressive and metabolically active the tissue, the more likely it will be seen on a thermogram by a trained interpreter. Thus, a very small highly inflamed area is more likely to produce findings on a thermogram while a larger less active region may potentially be missed.
Since highly inflamed precancerous growth represents the highest likelihood that cancer will develop, we consider thermography to be an excellent addition to standard breast imaging (mammography, MRI or ultrasound) to help identify smaller lesions that are growing quickly and may appear between annual examinations. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides invaluable feedback if you’re attempting to lower your risk of recurrence through lifestyle and nutrition, allowing you to see if your actions are effective.
Numerous studies have documented the presence of physiological changes consistent with breast cancer, prior to detection with mammography. Gautherie, for example, observed that 38% of the patients with ‘false positive’ thermograms developed cancer within four years. (Gautherie, et al. 1982) Stark further noted that 23% of the patients with ‘false positive’ thermograms developed cancer within 10 years. (Stark. 1985) According to Gutherie, a high-risk thermogram is considered 10x more significant than a first order family history of breast cancer. (Gautherie, et al. 1982) (Almaric, et al. 1981) Hobbins further states that a sustained high-risk thermogram carries with it a 22x greater likelihood of developing breast cancer than a low risk examination. (Hobbins. 1977)
In short, if thermography can be used to identify physiological signs that precede cancer and signal future risk, we can also use it to track the success of our anti-inflammatory strategies, adding a great deal to your piece of mind between conventional screenings.
Steps to take to lower inflammation
Exactly how does diet influence inflammation? Let us count the ways.
Change your oil
The type of fat that you eat is, quite possibly, the most important dietary factor affecting the level of inflammation in your body. That’s because fats are precursors to both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Note that we are not saying that all fat is bad for you. Fat is as necessary to good health as protein, carbohydrates and nutrients. What we are saying is that there is a world of difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Here’s why.
Unhealthy fats are objectionable
Fats stimulate a variety of chain reactions in your body. Picture a run of dominoes. When you push on the first one in line, the rest topple. Inserting unstable or unhealthy fats into the system will eventually cause the system to collapse in the same way.
When you consider that every cell in your body is surrounded by a lipid (fat) layer that is just the right constituency to let all necessary nutrients in while allowing all the critical waste material to pass out, you can see that altering the composition of that cell membrane is risky business. Yet, that’s exactly what unhealthy fats do. They will “gunk up” your cell membranes and, what’s more, they initiate a domino effect that ends with a host of pro-inflammatory ecosinoids (molecules composed of fatty acids) running rampant.
Trans fats are among the worst offenders (Mozaffarian, et al. 2004) Although they exist nowhere in nature, they line supermarket shelves in large quantities in the form of snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and vegetable shortening. Trans fats also create a wealth of free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation. Hundreds of studies like the one above have now confirmed the insidious link between trans fats and inflammation.
Mind your EFAs
EFAs, or essential fatty acids, are fats that the body can’t live without, and must get from food sources. The EFAs we need to survive are known as the Omega 6 fatty acids and the Omega 3 fatty acids. Simply put, omega-6 fatty acids start the fire of inflammation and omega-3 fatty acids put it out. Since we need to both start and stop inflammation, we need both types of fat. That’s why nature provided us with plenty of both. For example, most grains, nuts and seeds contain large amounts of Omega 6 fats. These Omega 6 fats work their way up the food chain in several ways. For example, cattle that used to feed on grass created meat and dairy products that were high in Omega 3 fats. These days, cows are fed primarily corn and soy in feedlots, which produces a much higher level of Omega 6 in the meat and dairy products that result. Because of this and the ubiquitous use of corn, soy, canola and other omega 6 rich vegetable oils in processed food and on supermarket shelves, our fat consumption habits have changed dramatically in the last century. Whereas our ancestors are believed to have eaten about twice as much Omega 6 fat as Omega 3 fat, many experts believe Americans now eat 10 to 20 times more Omega 6 fats than Omega 3 fats. The result is an unbalanced inflammation response.
An ideal balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats would go a long way in keeping inflammation under control. Omega 3 fats act as natural COXS-2 inhibitors, much like Advil or Celebrex, but without the potential side effects. Your job is to get your Omega 6 fats from whole grains, seeds and nuts, and avoid the refined, bleached and processed oils you find on supermarket shelves (corn, soy, canola, safflower, etc.). Incorporate more Omega 3 fats into your diet by adding wild salmon, halibut, sardines and occasional tuna; and by eating lots of flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts, all high in Omega 3 fats as well. Salmon is a particularly rich source of eicosapentaenoic acids and docosahexaenoic acids, the two potent omega-3 fatty acids that douse inflammation. Try to include some oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon in your diet twice a week. If your c-reactive protein levels are not where they should be, you might consider adding a fish oil supplement to your regimen, which have proven themselves to be a valuable asset in keeping cancer at bay.
Remember to keep your oils tightly covered in a colored glass bottle Exposure to air, light and heat oxidizes oils, rendering them rancid, and rancid oils are potent provocateurs of inflammation.
What about olive oil?
Olive oil belongs to a family of fatty acids called the Omega 9s, which, not classified as “essential” yet nevertheless provides great anti-inflammatory value. For this and all of its other wonderful health benefits, we highly recommend the regular consumption of olive oil. Like other precious oils, be sure to store in a dark container.
Lower your glycemic load
Refined sugar and other foods with high glycemic values elevate insulin levels and put the immune system on high alert. Recall that the glycemic load measures the impact of a food on blood sugar levels; bursts of blood sugar trigger the release of insulin. High insulin levels stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory compounds; what’s more, they activate additional enzymes that raise levels of arachidonic acid, another inflammatory compound, in the blood. A 2005 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who ate high-fiber diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains had lower levels of C-reactive protein than women whose diets consisted of primarily refined grains. (Esmaillzadeh, et al. 2006)
Yet another reason to avoid sugar and refined flour products.
Keep your antioxidant levels high
As we discussed earlier in the chapter, free radical damage is an unavoidable side effect of being alive. But, you mount a strong defense against the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radicals by keeping your antioxidant intake high. By eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, you’ll boost your antioxidant capacity in these ways:
You’ll support the main antioxidant enzymes that the body produces internally.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 1 White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark is an herbal remedy that stretches back in time, over 2000 years. It is gathered from the bark of various species of willow trees and has been used in many herbal medicine cultures, including that of the ancient Chinese, and Romans. As well as being used to treat lower back pain, osteoarthritis and other conditions including bursitis and tendinitis, it can also be used as a natural headache relief medicine.
White Willow Bark contains a natural chemical known as Salicin. Aspirin, which contains Acetylsalicylic Acid, was modeled on Salicin when it was first engineered back in the 1800s. Although it is not as fast acting as aspirin, the effects of White Willow Bark may have a longer lasting effect.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 2 Cats Claw
Cats Claw is so named because of its resemblance to cats claw It is a thorny vine that is known to climb as high as 100 feet, and it is the bark and the root of the plant that are used to make the herbal medication. The plant is found in South and Central America, but mostly in the rain forests of the Amazon. The majority of Cats Claw that is sold here in the USA is imported from Peru.
Research indicates that Cats Claw may be able to stimulate the immune system. Because of this it is advisable not to take it if you are on medication to suppress your immune system function. Cats Claw contains an anti-inflammatory agent that prohibits the manufacture of a hormone known as prostaglandin, a hormone which is in part responsible for pain and inflammation. It also contains antioxidants.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 3 Boswellia
Boswellia is also known as Indian frankincense. It comes from the Boswell Serrata tree which grows in India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Traditionally, it has been used in resin format to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, as well as a number of other disorders. These include:
Inflammatory bowel disorders
The reason that Boswellia may be able to assist with arthritic symptoms is that it contains Boswellic Acid which is believed to improve the blood flow to the joints, thus preventing white blood cells from entering and causing inflammation.
Today, Boswellia can be bought in the form of a cream for topical application, a resin as previously mentioned, or in tablet form. When used to treat arthritis, it is believed that it may be able to prevent cartilage loss.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 4 Capsaicin
Capsaicin is an ingredient of the Chili Pepper. It is made into a cream that can then be applied topically to any painful area (not the eyes). When we experience pain, a substance known as substance P carries pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin is able to interfere with this process. It can be purchased in different grades of strength, and upon initial application can cause some localized stinging or burning, which then quickly subsides. After several applications, (it should be applied 3 to 4 times per day), these sensations are no longer felt.
Because Capsaicin comes from Chili Peppers, certain precautions should be made, such as washing your hands thoroughly after applying it, and keeping it away from your eyes, and from children too.
As well as being available in cream or ointment format, it is also available in patches.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 5 Curcumin
Curcumin is an ingredient that comes from the herb known as Turmeric. It comes from India, where it has a long history of being used in Ayurvedic medicine. It works in a similar way to Capsaicin in as much as it blocks the transmission of substance P, but it is also credited with the ability to block certain proteins that cause inflammation.
It is used to treat arthritic pain but has many other capabilities too according to this article published in Natural News. It is the most medically researched natural herb and it still undergoing tests. Ginger, Rosemary and cloves act as a potent natural anti inflammatory without any side effects.
Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 6 Essential Oils
Whilst not strictly speaking a direct alternative to ibuprofen as an out and out pain killer, essential oils have the ability to combat one of the most common forms of pain that of the headache.
Increasing Omega 3 intake will help in natural pain reduction.
Best Natural Pain Relief:
CMORelieves Aching JointsMSMBlocks Nerve PainMentholCools Down Hot PainRhus ToxEases Sprains and BackachesBelladonnaStops Shooting PainMagnesium SulfateRelaxes Muscle SpasmPhosphorousSoothes Burning PainIgnatiaCalms Emotional PainLachesis MutusRelieves Painful SwellingNajaStills Nerve-based Pain