Rheumatologic diseases such as Lupus can often be misdiagnosed or receive a delayed diagnosis due to their initial manifestation as neurological disorders, Medical News Today reports. Such diseases can often first appear in the form of headaches and seizures, research from the Loyola University Medical Centre shows.
Rheumatologic diseases consist of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders of soft tissues and joints, such as vasculitis, ankylosing spondylosis and lupus. They can affect multiple organ systems, including the central and peripheral nervous systems. Arthritis is a common symptom of sufferers. Dr Sean Ruland, one of the researchers, noted that treatments for rheumatologic diseases can also lead to headaches and other such adverse neurological effects.
More than 50% of Lupus patients suffer from headaches and 33% suffer from migraines; around 1.5% suffer from an intense and persistent headache known as “Lupus headache”. It does not respond to narcotic medications and can be very painful.
Lupus commonly results in heart problems and strokes, with one fifth of sufferers experiencing some form of seizure and mood disorder, and one third from cognitive dysfunctions.
Ruland went on to add that as rheumatic disorders commonly manifest as neurological syndromes, it can cause problems with diagnosis. Being familiar with the neurological manifestations of rheumatologic diseases is essential for swift diagnosis and administering the correct intervention.
Immune suppressing drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are traditionally used as medication for patients with rheumatic disorders, with newly available medications continually expanding treatment options. The new treatments, however, do “carry a risk of adverse neurological effects”, Ruland concluded.