A Comparison Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Lupus

woman with rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are inflammatory conditions. The rheumatology diseases have some common symptoms, so one of these tends to be mistaken for the other. An inflammatory condition develops when our immune system attacks healthy cells. Researchers are unsure of precisely what leads to the autoimmune diseases, but they know the contributory factors for these conditions.

Both rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients have pain in the joints. Inflammation in the joints is one more common symptom of these rheumatology diseases, but the extent of it could differ. Both SLE and RA could make joints hot and fragile, but the effect is more noticeable in the latter disease as compared to the former.

Both diseases have a negative effect on the levels of energy too. A person having either disease will experience tiredness or weakness always. A different symptom of these rheumatic diseases is fever, although it is relatively more common in SLE than RA.

Who Has Rheumatoid Arthritis And Lupus?

Women have one of these two diseases more commonly as compared to men. Rheumatoid arthritis can start anytime, but it usually develops when a woman’s age is 35 to 50 years. Conversely, lupus starts when she is 15 to 44 years old.

Native Americans have RA more commonly than European descendants do. Non-white Americans have lupus more frequently as compared to white people.

Criteria Rheumatology Arthritis Lupus
What it attacks Mainly joints Mainly internal organs
What it may affect The lungs, eyes and mouth The skin, heart, joints, kidneys, brain, blood, and lungs
Who is more at risk of developing It 35-50 year-old Native American women 15-44 year old women of color
Fever Less common More common

The Effects Of The Diseases

Several more differences exist between the two. For example, lupus may affect healthy joints, but it is likelier to have an effect on parts inside the body and the skin as compared to RA. Lupus may have life-threatening issues, including kidney failure, seizures, or clotting issues, and these are not rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Conversely, RA mainly attacks normal joints. Rheumatoid arthritis has an effect on the fingers, knees, ankles, and wrists. RA may usually lead to joint deformity as well, but lupus may not.

Rheumatoid arthritis pain is typically worse at the start of the day, and it often improves when the day goes forward. There is pain in the joint right through the day in lupus, and it can pass onto other joints anytime.

Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, both rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have a few common symptoms, but one disease has several symptoms that the other one does not have. This can facilitate in differentiating one of the diseases from the other.

Some of the common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the joints, inflammation, tiredness, and low-grade fever. The rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that are not characteristic of SLE include the following:

  1. Redness near the inflamed joints;
  2. Foot and hand deformities;
  3. Partial or full joint dislocations; and,
  4. Rheumatoid nodules.

The lupus symptoms not characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis are as follows.

  1. Unknown rashes that may turn into lesions or sores;
  2. Butterfly-like rash from one cheek to the other;
  3. Anemia;
  4. Loss of hair;
  5. Chest pain with pleuritis
  6. Sensitivity to daylight or other types of light;
  7. Unusual blood clotting;
  8. Unexplained change in body weight; and,
  9. Raynaud’s disease.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing an autoimmune condition is not easy. Many steps are there in identifying whether an individual has the condition, and when they have, which form of it. The most important thing in efficacious treatment is to diagnose it correctly, so taking much effort and time for diagnosis is worthwhile.

Diagnosis tends to begin with making an in-depth written account of symptoms, medical past, plus a physical examination. After that, medical professionals determine which examinations to do and what imaging equipment to use.

RA and SLE are inflammatory diseases, so the diagnosis of both commonly involves many tests measuring biomarkers associated with inflammation. The test outcomes just inform the medical professional whether or not an individual has much inflammation.

For you to be identified as having lupus, a minimum of four diagnosis-related criteria should be met. Conversely, for an individual to end up having rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, a minimum of six criteria should be satisfied.

Treatment

Rheumatic arthritis and lupus are incurable, but there exist treatment to help deal with the symptoms of both rheumatic diseases. Several individuals having lupus consume prescription medication including steroids for pain and swelling in the joints. Other individuals might require medicine for skin rashes, kidney issues, or heart diseases. Occasionally, a blend of many medications is the most effective treatment option.

Individuals having rheumatoid arthritis are able to receive shots of cortisone to manage joint inflammation. Occasionally, they might require a hip replacement or knee replacement at a later stage when the joint deformity becomes excessive. There are several prescription drugs to achieve the two objectives of treatment: manage the symptoms and stop damage to the joints.

Rheumatologists usually treat the two health conditions, and you can think of them as rheumatology arthritis doctors.