The Differences Between Lupus Vs. Arthritis: What You Need to Know About Joint Pain

Aug 24, 2018

Lupus affects nearly five million people across the globe, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Along with fatigue, anemia, and skin rashes, arthritic, swollen joints area major symptom that lupus patients often experience.

Even though lupus may cause some of the same issues that osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis come with, it isn’t the same disease. To better understand how lupus and other types of arthritis differ, take a look at symptoms, causes, and treatment options. So what is the difference between lupus and arthritis?

Lupus Symptoms

The specific symptoms that each lupus patient may experience vary.

The most common complaints include extreme tiredness, joint pain and swelling, headaches, unexplained fever (not related to another illness, such as the cold or flu),a butterfly-shaped face rash, unexplained hair loss, photo sensitivity and Raynaud’s phenomenon (a condition where fingers and toes may feel numb or turn white in response to stress or cold).

Lupus’s symptoms often imitate other conditions, including arthritis. This makes a doctor’s diagnosis absolutely essential in correctly treating the disease.

Arthritis Symptoms

Like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis is also an autoimmune disease. Osteoarthritis, the other main form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that is not auto immune in nature.

Both types of arthritis have symptoms that include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness. They can both also cause a limited range of motion in the affected area or areas.

Lupus Causes

Again, lupus is an autoimmune disorder. This means the body’s immune system attacks itself. The result is inflammation across the body’s systems. Experts believe that the auto immune response is caused by several different factors. These could include a combination of internal( from within the body)and external( from the environment)components.

Common internal causes are hormones and genetic factors. External causes, or triggers, include illness, sulfa medications, UV exposure, penicillin (and similar antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, ampicillin and cloxacillin), severe emotional stress, physical injury, or even pregnancy.

Arthritis Causes

As an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis may have some of the same triggers that lupus does, but this does not mean they are the same disease.

Other common arthritis medications include analgesics (such as acetaminophen and tramadol) topical creams containing capsaicin or menthol and corticosteroids.

Osteoarthritis is also often treatable with physical therapy or surgery. Surgical options include joint repair (smoothing and realigning the joint), joint replacement (replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one), or joint fusion (fusing two ends of adjoining joints together).

Do you suffer from joint pain, swelling, and limited range of motion? Contact Sarasota Arthritis Center for more information on lupus, arthritis, and what to do next.

Additional Resources for Lupus vs Arthritis

Here are additional resources that can help you in your journey to understand the differences between lupus and arthritis. We encourage you to reach out with any questions or if you're needing to be seen by one of our Board Certified Rheumatologists!

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