Peripheral Nervous System Disease Proves an Important Part of Lupus-related Nerve Damage
A recent study aimed to explore how the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is affected in people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Of the more than 1,800 people followed in the study, nearly 8% experienced some type of PNS disease. The most frequently observed condition was peripheral neuropathy, a condition characterized by damage to the nerves that originate from the spinal cord and extend into the arm and legs (peripheral nerves). Mononeuropathy (damage to a single nerve) and cranial neuropathy (damage to nerves that originate from the brain or brainstem) were also among the most commonly seen PNS events.
According to physician assessment, the majority of PNS events resolved or improved over time. However, it took more time for the events to resolve for people with a prior history of neuropathy, more frequent disease flares, or for those who were older at the age of their SLE diagnosis. Researchers also found that peripheral neuropathy required more time to resolve than other types of neuropathies.
Several of the study’s investigators are members of the Lupus Foundation of America, Medical-Scientific Advisory Council and the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus International Collaborating Clinics Group, including Dr. John Hanly, the lead investigator for the study, who notes, “Most of the previous studies on nervous system disease in SLE have focused on the central nervous system, but our study examined ways in which the PNS may be affected. We found that PNS disease was not uncommon and was usually caused by lupus itself. Although it was associated with a negative impact on patients’ perceived health related quality of life, this improved with resolution of the PNS disease which was the outcome in the majority of cases.”
PNS disease has a significant negative impact on quality of life and is an important part of total neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE), the brain- and nerve-related conditions that can accompany SLE. Learn about how lupus affects the nervous system.