DEFINITION OF LUPUS
Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) is the full name of Lupus. It is a chronic, inflammatory arthritis disease that is characterized by phases of remission and relapse. It is a complex connective tissue disease that poses a great challenge to clinicians. This is because, not only does Lupus affect nearly all systems in the body, it also shares overlapping symptoms with many other diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
CAUSES OF LUPUS
Lupus is an autoimmune systemic disease. This means, the body’s own immune system starts identifying its own cells and tissues as foreign invaders. When this happens, an immune response is triggered similar to when an infection enters your body. Immune mediators are sent to sites of triggers, especially joints, to destroy these structures that are now perceived as foreign or harmful.
It is predominant in African-American women of child-bearing age.
SYMPTOMS OF LUPUS
The so-called classical triad of Lupus has gained enormous recognition. It includes: joint pain, fever and rash. It is not so classical, since these three symptoms are common is many types of inflammatory arthritis.
Lupus-arthritis is characterized by deposition of immune complexes in the joint capsule. These often result in the formation of new structures in the joint called osteophytes which further joint destruction.
Because lupus-arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis, all the five cardinal signs of inflammation are typically present. They include pain, swelling, redness in the affected joint, increased local temperature and loss of function.
- Pain in Lupus-arthritis is described as sharp and intense
- Swelling around the joint region is common
- The joint area is tender to touch
- Reduced joint movements
- Joint stiffness lasting more than 30 minutes
- Joint deformity has been reported
Other symptoms include:
- Malar rash on the face
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Generalized fatigue and etc.
TREATMENT OF LUPUS
Treating Lupus-arthritis is not simple. It is a perplexing disease even to the best clinicians. It requires a keen doctor who is willing to take a detailed history of the illness, medical background and a thorough physical exam. A doctor who will run relevant tests to determine or exclude other possibilities. Dr. Burke, an orthopedic specialist, is one such doctor. Although he has treated many patients with lupus-arthritis, he manages each patient individually, with a fresh set of eyes to make sure he gets the right diagnosis so he can offer the most effective treatment. In lupus-arthritis he uses the following treatments:
- All the categories of DMARDS
- Surgery – joint replacement