As many as 50% of patients who undergo HSCT develop osteopenia or osteoporosis, and cGVHD is associated with an even higher incidence. This is often the result of chronic glucocorticoid use, a major risk factor for osteopenia and osteoporosis because of increased bone turnover.
The HSCT itself causes a fundamental alteration of bone mineral metabolism, with loss seen in the first 6 to 12 months. Bone density loss in cGVHD is typically seen more in the femoral heads than the vertebrae, a distinction when compared with menopausal osteoporosis, though the humeral head, knees, and ankles can also be affected.
Lastly, patients with osteoporosis can develop hip flexor contractures due to sustained forward-flexed posture. A tight iliopsoas muscle may lead to worsening lumbar lordosis, increasing pain, and adding force being applied to vertebrae already prone to fracture.
Muscle mass and strength may be compromised because of an inflammatory myositis, mimicking polymyositis or dermatomyositis, that is a direct, immune-mediated result of cGVHD. Associated with tapering of immunosuppressant medications and is associated with the same genetic markers seen in patients with this autoimmune disease who have not undergone HSCT. Typically, this presents with painful, symmetric proximal weakness.
cGVHD is associated with several possible neurologic sequelae, including mononeuropathies, generalized peripheral neuropathy, and inflammatory neuropathy. A combination of multiple neuropath. This has also been shown to cause a neuropathic process that resembles acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), and is thought to be a result of direct infiltration of peripheral nerves by donor T cells.
An EMG can be diagnostic and can show demyelination, axon loss, or both. The first electromyographic sign of AIDP is an absent F-response, with subsequent findings of conduction block and denervation.
Nerve entrapment can be either by mechanical compression or fascial inflammation. As the inflamed fascia and/or skin surrounding peripheral nerves become fibrosed, the nerve may become entrapped and damaged.
Nerves at high risk for entrapment are those with little surrounding tissue, such as the ulnar nerve at the cubital tunnel and peroneal nerve at the fibular head. The median nerve at the carpal tunnel can also be damaged due to wrist flexion contractures.
In rare instances, develops when tapering immunosuppressive medication because of pre-existing autoantibodies against postsynaptic acetylcholine receptors. Most commonly seen in patients who received the HSCT for aplastic anemia. Symptoms typically are progressive weakness with exertion, with recovery of strength after rest. Ptosis is a common first symptom and its presence along with generalized weakness. May warrant an EMG that includes repetitive stimulation studies and blood tests to detect antibodies to acetylcholine receptors .