Lupus arthritis is caused by lupus, a condition that arises from a rare functional abnormality in the amazing machine called the human body.
The immune system in the human body is a mighty army that destroys anything that threatens the body. But, what happens when this system turns against itself and starts ravaging healthy cells? Normally, our body is not given to such blips but this is what happens in lupus.
When the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, widespread tissue damage and inflammation occur. This causes pain in various body parts, including the muscles and the joints. This is arthritis caused by lupus.
This form of arthritis is very common in people suffering from lupus. Knees, joints, elbows, ankles, feet, toes and wrists are most at risk. The neck and spine are generally not affected.
Symptoms include pain and stiffness with or without swelling. Affected areas may be warm and tender. Early morning stiffness is a commonly seen symptom. Fluid deposits in joints lead to swelling and pain.
Symptoms are symmetrical meaning that those appearing on one half of the body are likely to appear on the other half too.
Fortunately, lupus arthritis does not typically cause joint damage. The risk of permanent deformity too is minimal. In fact, in many lupus patients, arthritis may be transient and symptoms may disappear after a while.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the symptoms of are often misread, which ultimately leads to wrong treatment measures.
Lupus patients may develop painful conditions like joint inflammation, tendinitis or bone necrosis. The pain and inflammation caused by these conditions are sometimes wrongly attributed to arthritis even when symptoms do not match.
One of the reasons for this confusion is the difficulty associated with diagnosing the right condition. Most patients show positive results to the usual battery of tests like X-rays and joint fluid tests.
Generally, tests are done to make certain that the patient is not suffering from other conditions. Then, arthritis is confirmed.
Only a detailed study of symptoms and thorough physical examination can confirm the exact nature of the disease.
Once diagnosed, treatment of lupus arthritis is fairly straightforward. Anti-inflammatory medication tops the list. In some cases, anti-malarial medicines may also be used.
Low impact exercises coupled with lifestyle changes are a must to manage the condition effectively.