Lupus and Neurological Problems

Introduction

Lupus and Neurological Problems? Yes lupus indeed can cause damage to the nervous system and present with myriad neurological disorders.

Lupus (SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is classified under different headings like autoimmune disorders, connective tissue disorders etc. It is an autoimmune disorder because this disease results due to patient’s immune system mistakenly attacking the host’s organs and tissues instead of protecting it. Lupus is also called as a connective tissue disorder as the disease process frequently involves the connective tissues of the body.

It affects women significantly more than men.

The following neurological problems may occur due to lupus;

• Lupus Cerebritis
• Stroke (Infarction/bleed)
• Spinal cord bleed or infarct
• Peripheral nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
• Cranial nerve damage (cranial neuropathy) etc

Clinical Manifestations

The clinical presentation would depend upon what region of the nervous system is involved so there could wide varieties of clinical manifestations. This may include focal extremity weakness, numbness, neuropsychatric manifestations, seizures, sensory loss, gait unsteadiness, falls, numbness, tingling (pins & needle feelings), eye sight problems (blurring or loss of vision), facial droop, numbness, decreased or increased deep tendon reflexes, an up going big toe (babinski sign) etc.

Diagnosis

There are two sets of diagnoses here; neurological and lupus related. Neurological diagnosis depends upon what structure is involved so test like MRI/CT of brain or spine, EMG/NCS, EEG etc may be required.

The lupus diagnosis is made based on characteristic clinical presentation (involvement various organs, tissues etc) and laboratory tests like ESR/CRP, ANA etc.

Treatment

There is no cure for lupus yet. It is treated with steroids and/or other immunosuppressive agents to reduce the damage by the acute and future attacks.

Patients are treated symptomatically for numbness, pain, tingling sensation etc. Physical, occupational and speech therapy may be needed too.

Neurologists and rheumatologists are frequently involved in the care of patients with Lupus and Neurological Problems.



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