What is Sjogren's Syndrome?
by Billie/Care, co-founder of Sjogren's World
Sjogren's Syndrome is a chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease that affects the "exocrine" (moisture producing) glands of the body. It is classified as a "connective tissue disease." Some other types of connective tissue diseases are: Lupus, Scleroderma, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Ninety percent of those afflicted with SS are women. Sjogrens can accompany other autoimmune diseases, most frequently seen in conjunction with Rheumatoid Arthritis. When it is found with another connective tissue disease, it is called "secondary sjs."
Sjogren's Syndrome is classified as "primary sjs" when no other connective tissue disease is present. Sjogren's Syndrome causes dry eyes, dry mouth, and it can also affect other major organ systems. Uncommonly, it can affect the central nervous system.Neurological complications
Can affect the PERIPHERAL nervous system, and rarely, the CENTRAL nervous system.
Symptoms of peripheral nerve involvement:
Carpal tunnel syndrome, this can cause "pins & needles" sensations in the wrist. Pain can be associated with this and the pain is often worse at night
Trigeminal Neuralgia can cause an "electric shock" type pain in the face along the "fifth cranial nerve." The pain can become acute. There can also be some sensory loss in the face.
Sensory Neuropathy, can occur and may cause: sensory loss, ataxia (difficulty walking) and pain.Central Nervous System
- Lesions found in the brain and spinal cord can cause:
- Cognitive impairment (problems with attention or memory), anxiety and depression.
- Autonomic nervous system dysfunction, including, but not limited to:
- sweating abnormalities
- changes in body temperature - sensitivity to temperature changes
Multiple Sclerosis type symptoms, including, but not limited to: fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness and tingling, bladder and bowel problems, burning pain, difficulty with balance, disorders of position sense, trigeminal neuralgia, optic neuritis, and "stroke" like symptoms.Treatment for Neurological Problems
Treatment for neurological symptoms associated with Sjogren's Syndrome may include:
- Oral Steroids, IV Steroids, Methotrexate, cytoxan, and other immunosuppressive agents
- Adderall XR, Provigil for fatigue
- Neurontin, Lyricia for pain
- Tricyclic Antidepressants for pain
- NSAID's for muscle and joint pain
used to diagnose neurological problems ssociated with Sjögren's Syndrome (a partial list)
- MRI of the brain and/or spine
- Neuropsychiatric testing and evaluation, for cognitive disorders
- Nerve biopsy
- Spinal tap
"The Moisture Seekers" Newsletters
THE MERCK MANUAL, Sixteenth Edition, 1994 pages 1313-4
Principals of Internal Medicine, Isselbackes, 1994, pages 1662-1664
Physicians Guide to Rare Diseases, 1992 pages: 953-954
An excellent explanation of "Nervous System manifestations" in Sjogrens can be found here: Check under Clinical Manifestations, "Extraglandular (systemic) features" at the following Rheumatology site: RHEUMATOLOGY