CAN YOU HAVE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS WITHOUT SWELLING?Yes, there are some connective tissue disease and overlap syndromes, which restricts the swelling of joints. Such as: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), polymyositis-dermatomyositis (PM-DM), systemic sclerosis (SSc), Sjogren’s syndrome (SS) and various forms of vasculitis. They affect women much more frequently as compared to men and children. They are multisystem diseases, capable of affecting the function of many organs. They sometimes overlap with one another, sharing certain clinical signs, symptoms,ss and laboratory abnormalities. Blood vessels are the most targeted region of injury in these diseases. The immune system is accounted to be abnormal at least in some part, and damage of tissue is observed.
There are different types of overlaps that may affect people with lupus.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus
In lupus, joint (synovial) pain is very common. Swelling may persist in some joints, but the majority of those are felt with lupus, experiencing some joint pain without swelling. In Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), swelling of joints may always be present and the pain is common but it is less prominent, as because Rheumatoid Arthritis is more likely than lupus, to cause several bone destruction, joint deformities, and joint replacement. Some reconstructive surgery is frequently required in RA than in SLE. If a patient with lupus develops severe arthritis with joint deformities, then they should be considered to have rheumatoid-like arthritis.
Many persons with lupus have muscle pain, but among them few may have muscle weakness due to inflammation. The weakening of muscles that people with lupus report is most commonly due to fatigue or high doses of cortisone. In polymyositis-dermatomyositis, the initial problem is the weakening of muscles due to muscle inflammation. In myositis, weakness especially affects the hips and shoulders. Typically, there is no pain but some weakness is associated with it. People with myositis have increased blood levels abnormal electrical activity of some muscles, degeneration of muscle cell, and inflammation that is found in a muscle biopsy.
Scleroderma and Lupus
The hallmark of scleroderma (SSc) is thickened skin, which affects the fingers, and often the hands, forearms, feet, and sometimes face. If skin thickening is widespread, it may extend to the upper arms, thighs, abdomen, and chest. These changes are due to the excessive production and uncontrolled lay down of collagen, the substance normally present in scar tissue. The variety of skin rashes seen in lupus is due to inflammation, rather than fibrosis. These include some rashes on the face due to solar reaction. The latter is limited to the skin surfaces if exposed to sunlight. An exception is discoid lupus, which consists of spots or patches of rash, mostly when exposed to sun like face, ears, extremities, etc, which typically cause scarring and skin pigment changes. There is a huge difference in appearance of scleroderma and discoid lupus, and must be easily distinguished from one another by your doctor.
The primary treatment of SSc is quite different from that of lupus. Therefore, treatment for scleroderma in people, having lupus should be categorized and should be directed at the particular problems present at any given time.