Lupus and your body

What is transverse myelitis and how is it treated?

Transverse myelitis is a disorder of the nervous system linked to inflammation of the spinal cord. It is very rare, affecting approximately 1% of patients with lupus.

It usually begins suddenly and may cause feelings of numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, pain, weakness and, at times, loss of bowel and bladder control. If left untreated, the disorder may continue to progress over time, so treatment should be aggressive, and should include high dose prednisone and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). If anti-phospholipid antibodies are present, anticoagulants (blood thinning medications) may also help. You can learn more about these medications by reading our page on medications to treat lupus.

Transverse myelitis that is related to lupus may relapse once treated, so you should work with your doctor to track and manage any symptoms you may have. For more detailed information, please visit the National Institute of Health's page on transverse myelitis.

Medically reviewed on July 31, 2011