Neurological Involvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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Did you know that autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, among others, carry with them the risk for neurological symptoms or comorbidities?  It’s true. Sometimes these types of chronic illnesses can LITERALLY be in your head … and the rest of the body, too. 

Both Lupus and Rheumatoid (Autoimmune) Arthritis can have Neurological manifestations such as headaches, nerve pain, and more.  One characteristic of Lupus that is not often discussed is a migraine-like syndrome simply called, Lupus Headaches.  Some people with Lupus are even prone to Seizures. With RA, some folks get headaches from medication side effects and from the radiation of joint pain up through the neck. Both of these conditions — and many others — also cause inflammation that can cause muscles and tissues to press on nerves, causing neuropathy and other problems. Inflammation is a common cause for headaches and neurological problems — and is a common symptom of RA and SLE. 

Some autoimmune conditions such as RA, SLE, Lyme, Sjogrens, Scleroderma, Myositis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and others can affect the circulation and more, even at the cellular level, causing a wide array of symptoms and presentations that could vary from patient to patient, even if they are battling the same disease. (The same goes for Fibromyalgia which often has a neurological component.)

So, tell us: do you have any neurological involvement with your RA or Lupus? Headaches, seizures, nerve pain (also known as neuropathy) or overlapping neurological conditions? Please leave us a comment and share your story.

In the meantime, here is some further reading:

Be Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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3 thoughts on “Neurological Involvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

  1. I an currently going through the process of being diagnosed and the lasted update was ra and uctd on my fmla paperwork but explorig rhupus. I have been experiencing symptoms for about 28 months. I have a strong family history of both w various Ana’s specific to each and a slew of other positive results. I noticed feeling ill after what the doctors believe was parvovirus as I had positive igg’s. I have been having an increase in neurological involvement; migraines since December and most often cluster in conjunction w flares. I too find it hard to tell which is flaring. In January I had an episode that presenting like a simple focal seizure. Migraines have lately been more frequent than not. I experience a lot of blue aura’s in my vision daily and other visual disturbances. Symptoms include any and most of the following, sensitivity to light and sound, head, ear, eye and neck pain, and increased pressure and stiffness of the neck. I am currently exploring a new doctor who is a bit more current on research and does thorough investigating. I experience neuropathy in arms, legs, feet, hands and recently have a sciatica that is acting up for past 4 wks. I could go on and on but it all is rather exhausting. I would however appreciate anyone who could offer advice or make any recommendation.
    Thanks in advance. Stay strong.
    C

  2. I’m not sure if I have neuropathy, but my right thigh is pretty much completely numb. I was diagnosed with RA at age 19 and around that same time I had a stabbing pain in my thigh, just above my knee. It wasn’t joint pain, but nerve pain. Over time it spread and has affectionately become my “dead spot.” Now, I think it is happening on the left. All in all, it hasn’t affected my life too much, just uncomfortable at times.

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