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Hyperactive Reflexes
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Hyperactive Reflexes

  About three weeks ago I had a problem with losing total function in my right arm for a couple of hours, followed by a couple of days of numbness and tingling and significant weakness, that followed by a couple of weeks of pain from shoulder to elbow, and a feeling like burning from elbow to fingers.  Had CT scan brain on Day 2 as internist felt something was seriously wrong when he examined.  Noncontrast CT scan was normal so diagnosis was peripheal neuropathy, and was told that neuropathies are not uncommon in people like me who have connective tissue diseases.  Now, not only do I have the burning and pain sensations, a persistent weakness persists....I am right handed by my right arm is currently much weaker than my left.  Finally two doctors, the internist and the rheumatologist, have noted that I had hyperactive reflexes....the internist noted this in right side only, the rheumatologist said they were present on both sides.  What are hyperactive reflexes, what symptoms do they cause, how serious a problem is it?  Both doctors seemed concerned about the reflexes.  The rheumatologist did mention that if the weakness doesn't resolve in several weeks, I may need to have nerve testing done.  I also have hypothyroid, but my blood tests on my current level of synthroid indicate good control.  Currently they are retesting all the rheumatological stuff....possibilities at this point include Lupus SLE, Sjogren's syndrome, UCTD, and fibromyalgia.  I do have high positive ANA.  Could any of this relate to these problems with my arm and reflexes?
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Dear Mommydee,
Thank you for your question. Hyperactive reflexes usually mean a problem in the control of motor system (of the nervous system). The key here is to know what the baseline reflexes are and to see if there is a change in your reflexes, associated with your episode of weakness.
Some people are hyperreflexic at baseline, all the time that is, e.g. people with hyperthyroidism, anxiety, too much caffeine, drugs, etc.
Another key point, is symmetry. Is the increase in reflexes only on one side? or is it symmetric ? If you have not seen a neurologist, I suggest that you see one to resolve the issue. A new assymetric hyperreflexia in one limb  or one side of the body, associated with previous episode of weakness means that there is a dysfunction in the motor system, e.g. stroke, or other focal problem. Nerve problem can cause weakness, pain, numbness and tingling. THe nerve problem may be caused by a pinched nerve in the neck, or somewhere in the arm, forearm, or even the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome). An EMG and nerve conduction study may be indicated to study your problem further. In general, problem with peripheral nerve causes hypoactive reflex.
I hope the information is helpful. Please don't hesistate to post followup question or comments.





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