A lot of people fail to make a distinction between lupus arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both of these are autoimmune diseases in which the body sets upon itself and causes itself harm. So, where does one draw the line?
Medical experts all agree that proper diagnosis and differentiation of these diseases is not an easy task. The clinical symptoms and laboratory abnormalities of both diseases tend to overlap.
Similarities of Lupus Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lupus arthritis and RA incidence is differentiated by having more women being afflicted than men. They are both classified as multi-systemic diseases as they can affect and damage many organs.
Like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus attacks and damages the blood vessels. Both diseases also affect the normal function of the immune system, resulting in damaged tissues.
Differences Between Lupus Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus is a complex disease whose true cause is still unknown. It affects many parts of the body including the joints, skin, and internal organs. A person usually develops a rash in the shape of a butterfly on the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose.
Other symptoms of individuals with SLE include fatigue, hair loss, inflammation of the kidney, mouth sores and loss of appetite. This disease does not usually affect the spine and neck.
Similarly, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is also unknown. The disease attacks the wrists, fingers, knees, feet and ankles. It is usually manifested by the onset of fatigue and weakness, and morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour. Patients afflicted of this disease also complain of widespread muscle ache and progressive loss of appetite.
Patients suffering from lupus arthritis experience joint pain which is not associated with actual damage to the joint itself. There are also some cases where lupus patients don't experience swelling of the joints. This swollen lining is referred to as synovium.
However, lupus results to a more pronounced pain than that of rheumatoid arthritis. The symptoms of RA occur symmetrically, as an additive polyarthritis, with sequential addition of involved joints. On the other hand, lupus arthritis is a typical migratory arthritis, or episodic arthritis typical of gout.
Treatment of Lupus Arthritis
A person can suffer from both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. When a person suffering from lupus starts manifesting rheumatoid-like symptoms, treatment for RA should be applied instead.
The good news about lupus arthritis is that it is treatable. This clinical symptom of SLE can be properly managed and treated when treatment plan is strictly followed. This disease is usually treated with NSAIDs including aspirin and ibuprofen. If those medications don't yield positive results, your doctor may prescribe anti-malarial agents and corticosteroids.
Doctors may also prescribe RA treatment forms such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine. In severe cases, more powerful treatment forms are adopted to control joint inflammation. These medications play an integral part in treating lupus arthritis, but it is by far not the only treatment. Supportive physical and occupational therapy complete the effective treatment plan for lupus arthritis.