Saturday, May 17, 2008

Neurological Impact

Some Sjogren's patients have dry mouth and dry eye issues, and though these problems are difficult, they are the only issues for them.

Others, like myself, have symptoms which affect many other body systems. 

Neurological complications of Sjogren's are less often experienced, but no less troublesome. I can speak from experience with respect to the strange sensations that can result from the nervous system being affected from autoimmune activity. 

Steven Mandel, MD, Clinical Professor Neurology of Jefferson Medical College has written an excellent in-depth article which outlines the specific neurological complications which may accompany Sjs. You can read it here.

It uses very medically technical language, so I will attempt to simplify it for the rest of us.

The nervous system is comprised of several parts: the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves.  

When the nerves in the nervous system don't function properly, this condition is called neuropathy. Since nerves are responsible for allowing us to feel sensations, control muscle function, and transmit important information to the brain, impaired nerves can cause serious disruption in the body. Neuropathy can be caused by a number of problems. Autoimmune neuropathy is caused by the invasion of special white blood cells into nervous system tissue. 

When lymphocytes, or specialized white blood cells, malfunction in autoimmune disease, they attack normal tissues in the body. When these lymphocytes mistakenly identify tissue in the nervous system as foreign, they move in for the kill of these normal cells. 

The symptoms that result from these misguided white blood cells is determined by where the damage occurs. Lymphocytes can infiltrate the protective layer around the spinal cord - the meninges, the spinal cord, nerves, and even the brain. 

The list of potential symptoms and problems related to neurological damage from autoimmune disease is extensive. My symptoms include altered sense of smell, numbness and tingling in my hands, altered sensation in my face, and tremors. 

Dr. Mandel goes on to say in his article that early and aggressive treatment of neurological involvement is important to avoid long term complications. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Julia, I was diagnosed with Sjogren's 4 years ago and like all others have had numerous symptoms but have tried with a myriad of doctors to conquer as many problems as I could. My main complaint is Neurological, my legs from my knees down, only in front, burn like I have a terrible sunburn all the time. I am taking Neurontin but that only allows a small amount of comfort. If you know of others who experience this, I would love to hear what they are doing for this. My e-mail is travelers@elberton.net. Thanks, Vivian

Anonymous said...

The symtoms of the article match my wife. She tested positive for SS-A, SS-B antibodies. Early symtoms 15 years before having the blood test were dry eyes and loss of smell. Two years ago she had the blood test after her hands would become numb at night. It is both hands and very regular in occurance. She also has a numb sensation in her face. It was having test by the neurologist that she had the blood test and positive SS-A and SS-B. Before the tests I thought she might have had a mini-stroke is why we went in. The Cat scan and then MRI of her brain and upper spinal cord were negative. She also has trouble sleeping that may or may not be related. She was born in Korea and we have lived in many countries in the past 30 years (Guam, Japan twice, Germany three times, Italy, Spain and Hawaii). She is 59 years af age and would be interested in hearing if others have these types of symptoms and what action and medical advice they have recieved. V/R Bob on behalf of Haw Cha

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