Lupus and other rheumatological disorders
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Lupus and other rheumatological disorders

Lupus and other rheumatological disorders

Rheumatological conditions are common and may have a severe effect on mobility and activities

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Lupus mimics so many other conditions

Rheumatological conditions include any illness primarily affecting the joints and their surrounding structures, but they also include illnesses which often have joint problems as a smaller part of their collection of symptoms, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often known simply as 'lupus'. There is a more localised form of lupus affecting the skin called discoid lupus.

Lupus predominantly affects women from teenage years to middle age, and is more common in people of Asian and Afro-Caribbean ancestry. It is far less common than rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis but it often affects several different organs within the body simultaneously and its medical management is therefore more difficult. In lupus, the body's own defence (immune) system attacks the body's own organs, affecting their function and causing a variety of symptoms.

Together with a gradual onset, this makes early diagnosis difficult. There are characteristic blood factors found, but they are neither highly specific nor highly sensitive. Lupus can cause complications in pregnancy and you should ideally not try to get pregnant until at least six months after a flare of the disease. Treatment should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis, in order to prevent damage to vital organs. Medication may have to be taken long term.

Symptoms

There are many symptoms. This is not a complete list

When you should contact a doctor

Though there are more common diagnoses causing the above symptoms, if you have a collection of symptoms involving multiple areas of the body as above, which are unexplained, you should speak to a doctor to see if lupus is possible or likely.

Available treatments

A variety of treatments may be used depending on the part of the body affected

Related topics

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