The presenting symptoms associated with arachnoiditis and the experience of living with them in everyday life : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing at Massey University
A qualitative study was undertaken to explore and describe the symptoms associated with arachnoiditis and the experience of living them in everyday life. Using guide questions developed from the study's objectives, eleven people who believed they had arachnoiditis were interviewed to elicit descriptions of their symptoms and experiences. Research data revealed a broad range of symptoms, including severe pain in various areas of the back, headaches, sudden weaknesses leading to falls, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems, feelings of depression, suicidal feelings and plans for suicide, unexplained sweating, various sensations of pins and needles, electric shock, numbness, cramps, and spasms. Experiences identified as associated with living with these symptoms include mobility difficulties, problems in gaining understanding from others, the development of coping strategies, the search for relief from symptoms and enforced changes in lifestyle. The study revealed that nurses had played no recognised therapeutic role in participant's experiences. A change in focus is proposed, from a biomedical perspective of arachnoiditis as incurable and the symptoms, particularly the severe pain described by participants as intractable, to a Rogerian focus which emphasises the potentials in life. New possibilities for nurses to develop therapeutic practices, in particular, those focusing on pain management needs, are identified and linked to current opportunities for practice development.