Advanced Practice Nursing Issues

Stiff Person Syndrome: A Case Report

Patricia A. Kelly

Carolyn Kuberski

paraneoplastic syndrome, neurological, auto-immune, malignancy, stiff person
CJON 2014, 18(4), 465-467. DOI: 10.1188/14.CJON.465-467

The case report features a patient who had a diagnosis of a common type of breast cancer with an uncommon neurologic syndrome. She had extreme pain and progressive stiffness with cognitive and functional decline. This article includes the pathogenesis and treatment options for a rare, but treatable, autoimmune disorder of malignancy called stiff person syndrome.

Jump to a section


    Byrne, T.N., Isakoff, S.J., Rincon, S.P., & Gudewicz, T.M. (2012). Case 27-2012: A 60-year-old woman with painful muscle spasms and hyperreflexia. New England Journal of Medicine, 367, 851-861. doi:10.1056/NEJMcpc1114036
    Ciccotto, G., Blaya, M., & Kelley, R.E. (2013). Stiff person syndrome. Neurology Clinics, 31, 319-328, doi:10.1016/j.nci.2012.09005
    Dalakas, N.C. (2009). Stiff person syndrome: Advances in pathogenesis and therapeutic interventions. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 11, 102-110. doi:10.1007/s11940-009-0013-9
    Dalmau, J., & Rosenfeld, M.R. (2013, July 2). Paraneoplastic syndromes affecting the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia. UpToDate. Retrieved from
    Graus, F., Delattre, J.Y., Antoine, J.D., Dalmau, J., Giometto, B., Grisold, W., … Voltz, R. (2004). Recommended diagnostic criteria for paraneoplastic neurological syndromes. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 75, 1135-1140. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.034447
    Greenlee, J.E. (2010). Treatment of paraneoplastic neurologic disorders. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 12, 212-230. doi:10.1007/s11940-010-0066-9
    Hadavi, S., Noyce, A.J., Leslie, D.R., & Giovannoni, G. (2011). Stiff person syndrome. Practical Neurology 11, 272-282. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2011-00071
    Kannoth, S. (2012). Paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome: A practical approach. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 15(1), 6-12. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.93267
    Laflamme, R.E. (1995). Stiff-man syndrome: An education in difficult case management. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 21, 279-281. doi:10.1016/S0099-1767(05)80049-2
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2010). NINDS stiff-person syndrome information page. Retrieved from
    National Organization of Rare Disorders. (2010). Stiff person syndrome. Retrieved from
    Rakocevic, G., & Floeter, M.K. (2012). Autimmune stiff person syndrome and related myelopathies: Understanding of electrophysiological and immunological processes. Muscle and Nerve, 45, 623-634. doi:10.1002/mus.23234
    Spada, P.T., & Spada, J.B. (1994). Stiff-man syndrome: A rare disorder of the central nervous system. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 26, 364-366. doi:10.1097/01376517-199412000-00010