May 10 is World Lupus Day. Do you know that lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) share similar symptoms? Both can cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The joints that are most commonly affected – the small joints in the fingers, knees, ankles, and toes – are the same. Both lupus and RA can cause morning stiffness lasting for at least an hour and symptoms usually appear symmetrical (i.e., both wrists are in pain).
Below are symptoms that people with lupus experience and are rare in those with RA:
Lupus is the name given to a group of chronic immune diseases. It affects about 15,000 Canadians-approximately one in 2000.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) occurs when the body’s immune system begins to malfunction and attack healthy tissue in various parts of the body, causing inflammation and damage. Tissues affected can include the skin, joints, muscles, kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and brain.
Like many other forms of arthritis, lupus occurs more commonly in women than in men-women develop lupus approximately ten times more often than men do. While it can strike at any age, it tends to occur most often between the ages of 15 and 45.
While the exact cause or causes of lupus remain unknown, there are a number of factors which researchers believe may trigger the disease, either alone or in combination with one another. These include genetics, hormones, certain types of antibiotics and other medications, prolonged and severe stress, viruses, and sun exposure.