Lupus myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by an inflammation affecting both sides of the spinal cord. These SLE myelitis caused inflammation can damage or destroy the myelin, which is the fatty insulating substance covering nerve cell fibers. This damage is the main cause of scars around the nervous system which are responsible for the lack of communication between the nerves and other body organs.
Lupus myelitis generally appears as a sudden onset of lower back pain and muscle weakness. Some patients will experience several abnormal feelings in the toes and fingers that can progressive that can become severe if not treated. One of the symptoms of SLE myelitis is a loss of spinal cord function which can lead to paralysis, urinary retention, or loss of bowel function.
Although some patients recover from lupus myelitis with minor problems, others suffer permanent impairments that affect their ability to perform ordinary daily tasks. The segment of the spinal cord at which the damage occurs determines which parts of the body are affected. Indeed, damage at one segment of the spinal cord is likely to affect function at that segment and segments below it. For these reasons, lupus myelitis is the most dangerous type of lupus.
Lupus Myelitis Treatment Options
The main treatment goal for SLE myelitis is the reduction of spinal cord inflammation and associated symptoms. One treatment method is the use of anti-inflammatory corticosteroid therapy in order to reduce the pain associated with inflammation. Anti-inflammatory corticosteroid therapies have been proven in several studies to reduce the immune system attack on its own tissues thus improving the chances of recovery.
Some corticosteroid medications prescribed include intravenous methyl prednisone. In severe cases of SLE myelitis that can’t be treated solely with corticosteroid other therapies such as plasma exchange may be used in addition to corticosteroids.
Following initial therapy, the most critical part of the treatment of lupus myelitis consists of keeping the patient’s body functioning while hoping for a complete or partial recovery of the nervous system. The treatment may require placing the patient on a respirator in the uncommon scenario where breathing is significantly affected.
Exercising is one treatment option to consider. Your health care specialist might recommend exercise that can keep your muscles fit and your heart up to shape in order to reduce the level of pressure on the nervous system tissues. If the exercise seems to be successful, physical therapy might be fully added to the treatment option.