Arachnoid cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the arachnoid layer of then meninges – the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. They are made up of cerebrospinal fluid and are considered benign.
In many cases, the cysts are small and do not disturb the brain tissue or the spinal cord. In those instances, doctors may recommend observation instead of active treatment.
In other cases, the cysts could become large enough to cause problems, including nausea and vomiting, headache, and neurological issues. When this occurs, doctors may recommend arachnoid cyst surgery as a means to drain or remove the cyst completely.
There has been some debate as to which surgical is most effective. The two main methods are:
- The formal craniotomy, where the surgeon removes part of the skull to access and remove the cyst
- Cysto-peritoneal shunting, where the surgeon inserts a tube to drain the cyst.
Both methods have their benefits and risks and the method the doctor chooses will depend on several factors including the size and location of the cyst, and how badly it is affecting the surrounding tissue.
Although surgery is the only way to remove, or reduce the size of, the cyst, it is possible to use alternative therapies to treat some of the symptoms.
Alternative Therapies for Arachnoid Cysts
There are certain neurological symptoms that you may not be able to treat with alternative therapies, such as:
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness.
That is because these symptoms originate and occur in the brain a direct result of the cyst pressing against the brain, or a nerve. Alternative therapies may not affect the size or position of the cyst. Additionally many neurological symptoms can be life-threatening and, in those cases, surgery could be the best option.
However, you may be able to treat the headache, nausea, and vomiting because these occur after the nerve impulses leave the brain. Some alternative therapies could dampen those impulses and temporarily relieve your symptoms.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into certain energy centers in the body. The needles come in varying lengths and weights and it is believed that they break up energy disruptions that contribute to several illnesses including chronic pain and migraine headaches.
Acupuncture might also relieve the headaches and nausea associated with arachnoid cysts, because it may disrupt the energy signals from the brain that contribute to these symptoms. For the best results, most experts recommend multiple sessions over several months.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, except that instead of needles the practitioner applies manual pressure to the same energy centers on the body. Like acupuncture, it is believed to break up the energy disruptions believed to cause illness, but it is less invasive. Acupressure also requires several sessions, and it can be a viable alternative for patients who are squeamish about needles.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to treat a variety of ailments. Different oils have different properties, and some practitioners even combine them for multiple effects. Lavender essential oil is recommended for treating headaches, while peppermint can relieve headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Chamomile, damask rose, and fennel are also recommended for nausea and vomiting. Patients can apply the essential oils by mixing them with plain carrier oil and applying them to the skin, mixing them with alcohol and distilled water and spraying the room, adding them to a room diffuser, or applying them to a handkerchief and inhaling the vapors.
Reflexology is a massage technique that uses pressure points on your feet, which correspond with different parts of the body. The belief is that massaging these points will directly influence the organs with which they are associated.
The pressure point for nausea and vomiting is the sole of the foot between the ball and the heel. The reflexology points for headache are the big toes of both feet.
Things to consider
While these therapies can relieve your symptoms, they should not take the place of a doctor’s care. If you notice your symptoms changing, or worsening, consult your physician immediately.
As previously stated, some arachnoid cysts could become life-threatening if they compress vital nerves or brain tissue. Regardless of which treatment option you choose, you should always keep your doctor informed of your condition.
Photo Credit By: drstevenbecker.com