For some people living with lupus, paralysis is among the symptoms they risk developing as the disease progresses. Lupus is a complicated disease. Hence, it should not come as a surprise that there are various pathways towards developing lupus paralysis.
Causes of Lupus Paralysis
Lupus paralysis can develop as a consequence of immune system attacks on the spinal cord. These attacks cause the spinal cord to develop inflammation, which has an impact on movement. The condition in question is referred to as transverse myelitis. Because of this condition, patients can develop paralysis beginning from the inflamed part of the spinal cord going downwards. The other conditions that can arise as a consequence of spinal cord involvement include meningitis- the inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord.
Other lupus patients may develop myositis, a condition in which muscle inflammation occurs and may result in lupus paralysis. The patients who experience this may feel incapable of doing anything due to the fatigue and weakness that their muscles experience. Their hips and shoulders tend to be affected in this condition. Hence, they may be unable to do tasks that put a strain on their hips or shoulders. These include tasks as simple as standing up from a sitting position, walking up a flight of stairs, stacking cans of food on shelves or braiding their own hair.
Lupus patients with myositis experience muscle inflammation, muscle degeneration, unusual electrical activity in the muscles, and high levels of a chemical, creatine kinase, in their blood due to the damage done to the muscle tissue. Not surprisingly, this damage can result in paralysis. For treatment, anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone and other drugs that function similarly to cortisone are effective when used in tandem with immunosuppressants. It is ill-advised to use high levels of cortisone when treating myositis. This is because cortisone can provoke some symptoms similar to those of myositis.
It is not unusual for lupus patients to develop blood clots as a result of autoimmunity. If these clots occur in the nervous system, it is possible for blood flow to one or more parts of the brain to be obstructed. The affected tissue can be damaged permanently. This has long-term implications for the health of lupus patients. Depending on the part of the brain that is affected, patients may develop a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include varying degrees of paralysis. They may also include incontinence, impaired speech, cognitive impairment or others.