A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Lupus shows that lupus can cause damage to the peripheral nervous system (nerves throughout the body outside of the brain and spinal cord).
Researchers from several hospitals in Italy analyzed medical records of 1224 lupus patients. Involvement of the peripheral nervous system was seen in 6.9% of patients. Over two-thirds (68 percent) of damage was attributable to systemic lupus. Polyneuropathy – damage to the peripheral nerves causing weakness, numbness and/or burning pain) was the most common manifestation. Next most common was cranial neuropathy – when nerves in the brain or brainstem are affected.
The average age when SLE was first diagnosed was higher (45.9 years old) among those with peripheral nervous system complications than those without (37.1 years old).
Investigators concluded that when patients are diagnosed with lupus, a neurological exam should be included, especially among older patients who have more severe disease activity.