A short time later, when reviewing his original MRIs, new doctors found nothing to substantiate the disc herniation diagnosis or the need for Depo-Medrol. It is now believed the hip pain Dennis experienced was caused by a sprain and not from any back problem.
However, he now is forced to live with arachnoiditis caused by epidural steroid injections (ESIs). "Arachnoiditis describes a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord," according Dr Robert Filice, MD in Depo-Medrol: Another Good Reason to Choose Prolotherapy.
The inflammation sometimes leads to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, which cause the spinal nerves to "stick" together at which point arachnoiditis begins to interfere with the function of the nerves, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and a characteristic stinging and burning pain in the lower back or legs, according to Dr Filice.
There is no cure for arachnoiditis and treatment options are limited to pain relief similar to treatments for other chronic pain conditions.
Dennis has organized the "End Depo Now Campaign" (EDNC), a grassroots advocacy group seeking to have Depo-Medrol banned from epidural use. Research by EDNC has determined:
(1) there are only two natural ways to contract the condition. One is through trauma to the spinal cord; the other is through contamination of the Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) by foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses, which cross the blood brain barrier.
(2) there are only two ways to contract the condition through medical procedures. One is through surgery, the equivalent of natural trauma, that can include blood contamination of the CFS; the other is through injecting foreign substances into the CFS, which causes the body to react in exactly the same way as it would to bacteria and viruses.
An ESI is a dangerous procedure. "When administering epidural injections, it is critical to recognize the risks associated with the introduction of potentially neurotoxic substances into the subarachnoid space, from which 40% of spinal fluid is produced," according to Milestone Scientific in a March 6, 2006 press release.
The only possible way Dennis could have contracted arachnoiditis is through the improper ESI because had no back problems.
"I am living proof" Dennis says, "that a healthy person can be seriously harmed by this procedure."
He states that his "perfectly healthy spine turned rotten by a "non-approved" steroid that was used "off-label" in a place "not recommended" by the manufacturer!"
In the March 1999 paper, Adhesive Arachnoiditis Syndrome, Dr Sarah Smith summarizes the complexities and progression of the of disorder.
In the first stage, the spinal nerves are swollen and the adjacent blood vessels distended and the subarachnoid space disappears.
During the second stage, the scar tissue increases, and the nerves become adherent to each other and the dura.
In the third stage, adhesive arachnoiditis, involves complete encapsulation of the nerve roots and the scarring prevents the arachnoid from producing spinal fluid in that area.