Copyright: Kheng Ho Toh
According to the Mayo Clinic, lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease caused when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Because the symptoms of lupus vary from person to person and mimic other types of ailments/conditions, it is often difficult to diagnose.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are roughly 1.5 million Americans living with lupus and another 16,000 new cases reported annually.
There is no known cause of lupus. However, there may be evidence to suggest that environmental factors can trigger the disease in those who show a predisposition to it. There is no cure for lupus.
Symptoms of Lupus
Common symptoms associated with lupus include (but are not limited to):
- Joint pain/arthritis characterized by stiffness and/or swelling
- Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
Lupus and Joint Pain
As mentioned earlier, joint pain is often a common complaint among those who have lupus. In fact, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), up to 90% of lupus patients will have arthritis sometime during their experience with the disease.
Joint pain or arthritis with lupus is typically referred to as “lupus arthritis,” and it is most common in those who have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus
While lupus arthritis is said to have many similarities to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are some marked differences to help differentiate the two. For example, unlike RA, lupus arthritis is not as severe. There is less swelling, shorter periods of joint stiffness, and less likelihood of permanent bone damage.
Relief for Joint Pain Associated with Lupus
Current treatment options for lupus arthritis include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)
- Antimalarial drugs
- Corticosteroids (ex: low doses of prednisone)
- Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
- Immunosuppressants (ex: Trexall)
Regardless of what path you choose, it is always best to review your options with your medical team first.
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