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Lupus headaches?



I was diagosed with systemic lupus approximately two years ago. I am constantly battling with severe headaches --primarly in the back of the neck and behind my ears. My rhemotologist gives me cortizone shots behind the ear and in the upper shoulder; however, this still does not stop all of the pain. Could this be viewed as a lupus symptom or flare?


A few studies have reported that the occurrence of headaches correlate with constitutional symptoms, and joint and muscle aches and pain in SLE patients, and that headaches are more common in SLE patients who develop brain and nerve involvement. More recent studies, however, have shown that occurrence of headache is similar in general population and SLE patients, and that presence of headache has no correlation with disease flare or severity. As far as your problem is concerned, the cause of headache should be investigated more carefully. Although I do not know all the details of your problem, I am not clear why your rheumatologist is giving you cortisone shots behind the ear and shoulder. In summary, not all headaches in patients with lupus are related to lupus. A detailed work up should be performed to determine the cause of intractable headaches of the kind that you have.

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Response by:

Ram Raj   Singh, MD Ram Raj Singh, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati