Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are two chronic and potentially severe autoimmune disorders that are typically characterized by joint pain and stiffness. Both the conditions stem from the immune system mistakenly attacking parts of your own body – the same immune system that is designed to protect it. Although the symptoms of both the conditions may vary from person to person, they do share some common symptoms such as joint pain. This is why they are often confused early on, but the joint pain is more pronounced in rheumatoid arthritis. In this article, we look at the common aspects of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Lupus?
Lupus, short for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a systematic autoimmune disorder that disproportionately affects young women, African Americans, and Hispanics. It is a relapsing disorder with protean manifestations which can affect almost any organ of the body. Lupus is an inflammatory disease that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack the healthy cells and tissues in your body. It can affect almost any part of the body and the common symptoms include fever, joint pain, stiffness, skin rashes and organ damage.
Lupus commonly affects women of reproductive age, which might suggest that the female sex hormones may play a crucial role in the development of SLE. It has varied presentations as it can affect almost any part of the body. The degree of lupus may vary, where some patients may develop kidney, lung or brain involvement and others may have a mild disease with minor symptoms like rashes and joint pain. The disease has no cure but medications can be prescribed to manage the symptoms.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
There are several forms of arthritis, most of which begin as significant inflation in joints, which may cause damage to the joints. Now, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of chronic arthritis that primarily causes pain, swelling and stiffening in the joints. Movable joints are most likely to be affected by RA, which include shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, toe joints, knees, hips and ankles. RA can also affect others parts of the body such as eyes and lungs, blood vessels, heart, and your skin.
RA is more common in women than men, and it often starts in middle age. Studies suggest that there is an increased prevalence of RA in the first-degree relatives, which are parents, siblings and children. If left untreated, it can further lead to deformity in joints and permanent disability. Typical diagnosis involves a combination of medical history, physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests such as X-Rays or MRIs. While there is no cure for RA, medications help to control the symptoms.
Similarities between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
– Both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune disorders that have more in common than you can imagine. Both the conditions can cause joint pain and stiffness in joints, as well as redness and warmth in affected joints. Other common symptoms include fatigue and weakness, inflation in body parts, such as eyes, skin, lungs and heart. While some patients may suffer from kidney problems, it is more common in lupus.
– Both the conditions are more common in women and men, particularly women in the middle age. The conditions are prevalent in young women, particularly of the reproductive age. This also suggests that female sex hormones play a crucial role in the development of both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies suggest that there is an increased prevalence of RA in the first-degree relatives.
– As with all other chronic illnesses, early diagnosis is important. This is where they are often mistakenly confused with one another at the early stages. A typical diagnosis involves a combination of medical history, physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests such as X-Rays or MRIs. Multiple tests may be required to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
– There is no cure for lupus and RA, but often medications are prescribed to manage the symptoms. No effective targeted therapies exist in the severe forms of the conditions, but common medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic therapies. Anti-malarial drugs are often prescribed early on for patients with lupus.
What are the similarities between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis?
Both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis stem from the immune system attacking parts of your own body by mistake. Both the conditions are more common in women than men, particularly young women.
What are the similarities and differences between systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis?
Similarities: Both systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis share some common symptoms, such as joint pain and stiffness in joints, as well as redness and warmth in affected joints. Both involve inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the skin, eyes, lungs, and heart.
Differences: SLE can affect multiple organs and tissues while rheumatoid arthritis primarily impacts the joints. SLE is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors, while there is an increased prevalence of RA in the first-degree relatives.
Which is more painful lupus or rheumatoid arthritis?
Both the conditions can cause significant pain and stiffness in the joints and inflammation. The severity of pain depends on many factors, such as the specific subtype of lupus or RA, the extent of damage, the affected person’s overall health, and so on.
Is RA factor positive in lupus?
The rheumatoid factor (RF) is commonly found in individuals with lupus. While some people with Lupus may also have positive RF test results, it is not typically considered a defining characteristic of the condition.
What autoimmune disease mimics rheumatoid arthritis?
There are many autoimmune diseases that mimic rheumatoid arthritis in terms of symptoms and involvement of joints, such as SLE, Psoriatic arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Reactive arthritis, Polymyalgia rheumatic, and more.
Can lupus be confused with RA?
Lupus and RA are often confused with each other early on, but the joint pain is more pronounced in rheumatoid arthritis than it is in lupus.
What labs are elevated with lupus?
Lab tests that may be elevated in lupus include Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA), Anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies, Anti-Smith (anti-Sm) antibodies, Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP), and Complement levels.
How do rheumatologists diagnose lupus?
Rheumatologists diagnose lupus by conducting a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests such as X-Rays or MRIs, followed by the study of medical history of patients.