Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, is metabolic myopathy that results in the immune system attacking healthy tissue. This autoimmune disease can manifest as arthritis as well as a wide variety of other conditions. The rare nature of this metabolic myopathy sometimes means it's often overlooked and treated improperly. That's why it's important for you to understand this disease so you can properly diagnosis it and receive the right treatment.
About systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and is just one form of many types of lupus. However, SLE is considered the most common of all of them. Although the disease is considered to have a strong genetic influence, the actual disease is believed to be triggered by environmental factors.
Unfortunately, no specific gene has been identified that can help predict SLE, but instead develops due to a wide variety of genes interacting with one another. Approximately 90 percent of SLE suffers are women, and those of African American descent appear to be more susceptible. It is clear that lupus tends to run in families, but more research is needed on the disease to determine how and why it develops.
SLE can lead to death in rare cases, particularly due to accelerated cardiovascular disease, but better treatment has improved survival rates in the last decades.
One of the main problems is that SLE is often mistaken for other diseases. Once the immune system starts attacking your healthy tissue, you may experience issues like joint and muscle pain, extreme fatigue, and frequent fevers. Unfortunately, these symptoms are present in many other diseases, meaning you may go years without a proper diagnosis.
It's important to know there are differences in the sexes. Females tend to suffer more from arthritis, have psychiatric issues, and feature a low white blood cell count. Males are more prone to suffer from seizures, dermatological problems, neuropathy of the fingers and toes, and serositis, which is characterized as inflammation of the heart and kidneys. Some of these issues will only develop a long after the disease develops.
Many people also experience a Malar rash, which is a rash pattern on the cheeks that takes on the appearance of a butterfly.
SLE is considered to be an arthritic disease. While it is distinct from rheumatoid arthritis, research has explored a connection between the two. Typically, SLE will not be as destructive to the joints as rheumatoid arthritis, but in some cases deformities of both the feet and hands can occur.
SLE can be difficult to diagnose, but if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, it's important to speak with your doctor. Your doctor can perform a variety of tests, including antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing as well as anti-extractable nuclear antigen (anti-ENA). Other secondary tests on the liver, kidney and blood may also be performed to confirm a diagnosis.
Currently, there is no cure for SLE. Typically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which are typically antimalarials, are required to control flare-ups. However, it's important to speak with your doctor about what medication will work for you, and which greatly depends on how severe your SLE is
You can also introduce lifestyle changes like a healthier diet and light exercise. Massage is also known to help control arthritic symptoms and reduce stress. However, deep tissue massage may exacerbate SLE, so be sure to work with a specialist who has experience working with SLE sufferers.
To learn more, contact a company like Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates of South Jersey.