Humira and Transverse Myelitis

Humira is usually used alone or with other medications to relieve the symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders (conditions that occur when the immune systems attack healthy parts of the body and cause pain, swelling and damage). Humira is known as a treatment for numerous health issues, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Humira is a TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitor. TNF is a substance that causes inflammation throughout the body. Humira works through blocking the action of TNF, usually preventing inflammation.

Humira risks

Unfortunately, Humira has been reported to elevate the risk levels for other health problems. Although Humira’s goal is to block the risk of infection, it sometimes has an adverse effect on the immune system’s capability. With a lowered capacity to perform, the immune system is sometimes incapable of stopping the development of infections. Humira use has been related to one or more types of nerve and vision issues. These include optic neuritis, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and transverse myelitis.

Transverse Myelitis

Although some of these nerve and vision issues are rare with Humira use, there is still the possibility of developing an infection like transverse myelitis. There are a number of clinical symptoms that are related to transverse myelitis, usually known to develop within days to weeks after the infection begins. Around 50 percent of transverse myelitis patients show symptoms within the first 24 hours. Some of the common symptoms for transverse myelitis include:

  • Neck or back pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Coldness or burning
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Bladder and bowel issues

Transverse myelitis is a neurologic syndrome that is caused by an inflammation to the spinal cord. While transverse myelitis is uncommon, it isn’t exactly considered to be rare. The amount of reported cases has varied from year to year, but is usually around three million.

While the spinal cord is known for carrying motor nerve fibers to the limbs and sensory fibers to the brain, transverse myelitis interrupts this process. With inflammation in the spinal cord, these pathways are interrupted. Thus, common symptoms like weakness in the limbs and body pain develop. 

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