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Lupus and Plexopathy
January 2003

Q. Is it possible to develop a lumbosacral plexopathy as the result of having lupus? When a person has a lumbosacral plexopathy with sensory and motor nerve damage, do a significant number of individuals fully recover or do only some recover? Can a plexopathy reoccur?

A. Lupus, more formally known as systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), is one of a group of auto immune diseases in which the immune cells of the body begin to attack and damage the body's own tissue. The cause for this is unknown. Diagnosis can be difficult as there is no single test for lupus, and even the "lupus antibody test" can be positive in people who are healthy, and negative in people who have lupus.

Genetics may play a role as there is often found to be more than one case among close relatives. Common symptoms at the beginning of the disease include fever, rash, weight loss, fatigue, and many other symptoms. Any organ system of the body can be affected including the joints, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

Plexopathy (nerve damage) can occur and affect individuals with lupus, affecting the motor nerves, sensory nerves, or both. Recovery is possible when inflammation subsides, but can be very slow and unpredictable.

There is no cure for lupus but many medications are available to treat the manifestations of the illness. Often doctors in many different specialties are involved in treatment of the patient with lupus due to its wide ranging effects. The severity and course are unpredictable, often with periods in which the disease flares up, and periods in which the disease is relatively inactive. Doctors with experience in the treatment of lupus should direct patient care.




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