Stiff Person Syndrome
A rare, progressive disease that affects the nervous system is Stiff Person syndrome. This syndrome causes muscle stiffness to develop in the spine and lower extremities, which is often triggered by emotional stress. Painful muscle spasms occur when triggered by a certain stimuli, which can be an auto-immune component as well. Stiff Person syndrome typically develops in the mid- forties and gradually progresses.
This syndrome is very rare and the exact cause remains unknown. It's estimated this condition occurs less than 1 in every million people. Although Stiff Person syndrome can occur in anyone, women appear to have an increased risk for the syndrome. In fact, women are two times more likely to developed the syndrome when compared to men. Race and ethnicity don’t appear to play a role in a person's risk for the syndrome. Stiff person syndrome is often associated with auto-immune disorders: therefore, increasing a person's risk for this syndrome when an auto-immune disorder is present.
In order to properly diagnose Stiff Person syndrome multiple tests are conducted. A physical examination is used to review neurological history as well as laboratory testing. The symptoms a patient is experiencing are also evaluated, such as stiffness, rigidity and painful spasms. Antibody testing is also conducted to ensure there isn't another condition causing the symptoms. Electromyography is used test the function of the muscles.
Treatment for Stiff Person syndrome is needed; however, treatment methods used do pose potential dangers. Therefore, the benefits and risks of treatment must be carefully evaluated for each individual. When treatment is effective, patients with Stiff Person syndrome are usually able to return to their normal activity level.