Rheumatologic Diseases Can Initially Present Like Neurological Disorders

Research appearing in the Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports have shown that lupus and other rheumatologic disorders can initially present as neurological disorders such as headaches and seizures which can lead to a few months of a delay in proper diagnosis. Rheumatologic diseases include autoimmune and inflammatory disorders of the joints and soft tissues, such as systemic vasculitis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylosis.

More than half of lupus patients have headaches and a third have migraines. Around 1.5% of lupus patients have a headache that is persistent, severe, and intractable and does not respond to narcotic medications. Up to 20% of lupus patients have seizures and 1/3 of lupus patients have cognitive dysfunction. Up to 20% of lupus patients experience mood disorders such as psychosis. Patients who have systemic vasculitis can have headaches, stroke like syndromes, seizures, and optic neuropathies. Around 1/3 of systemic vasculitis patients have residual neurological impairments and need treatment to suppress their immune systems.

Patients who have ankylosing spondylosis can experience seizures, cranial neuropathy, cognitive impairments, and headaches.

There are different treatment options for patients for rheumatic disorders. Medications can include immune-suppressing drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is noted however that some medications can have neurological effects as a risk.

Source: Amre Nouh and et al. Neurology of Rheumatologic Disorders. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. issue 14, vol. 7, 2014.

Leave a Comment