Your first diagnosis of lupus could come from a rheumatologist. Lupus often presents symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Many people seek a rheumatologist's help for aching joints and muscles. But, the problem could be something much more complicated. Both conditions show similar symptoms, but lupus is a more widespread issue. Here is more information about the similarities and differences between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and how to get help for both.
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is a term for an autoimmune disease that affects various parts of the body. When a person has lupus, they make antibodies that attack and damage healthy cells and organs like the heart and kidneys. Joint pain and swelling, along with a facial rash, are some of the earliest symptoms. The condition is chronic and can go into remission periodically, only to flare up later.
What Is the Difference Between Lupus and RA?
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is also an autoimmune disorder. It primarily affects the area around the joints and the adjoining muscles. Joints swell up and can become deformed over time. People with lupus often suffer from RA symptoms like swelling and soreness. However, they almost always have other problems like kidney issues. The two conditions generally involve different sets of antibodies. However, some people can be positive for antibodies for both conditions.
What Can a Rheumatologist Do for Lupus?
If your rheumatologist suspects you have lupus, you will go through a thorough examination. You will need to provide your health history. Both conditions are more common in people with other family members with the same condition. You may also need to do a blood or urine test, as well as imaging like X-rays. These tests are helpful to diagnose both RA and lupus. If your rheumatologist suspects you have lupus, you will be referred to other doctors for further tests and treatment.
What Treatments Are Available for Lupus-Related RA?
Your rheumatologist can continue to treat your muscle and joint problems aggravated by lupus. However, you will likely receive treatment from your primary care doctor, as well as other specialists. Some medications, such as corticosteroids, can help with both conditions. If your RA symptoms are lupus-related, you may be able to reduce pain and improve mobility by controlling your symptoms.
If you have lupus, your rheumatologist will work with other doctors to keep your condition controlled. Whether you have RA or lupus, don't wait to get treatment. Early diagnosis of RA can help reduce the chances of permanent joint damage. Early lupus diagnosis is important in reducing other problems like kidney damage. If you have unusually achy and swollen joints, see a rheumatologist for an examination, or visit a local clinic, like the Sarasota Arthritis Center.