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What is lupus arthritis?

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Quick Answer

Lupus arthritis, or muscle pain and inflammation, affects the joints, especially those of the extremities, such as the toes and fingers, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The joints become stiff, warm, tender and swollen, and the symptoms are most likely to appear early in the day.

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Full Answer

Lupus arthritis occurs because lupus is an autoimmune type of disease that causes inflammation. The disease also affects the kidneys and the skin. Episodes of muscle pain and inflammation increase when the patient's level of strenuous activity rises. Other symptoms of lupus arthritis may manifest as common ailments, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis or bursitis. Individuals with lupus are also at greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Although lupus arthritis usually does not become as complicated as rheumatoid arthritis, a lupus patient has a higher risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis, explains Healthline.

The symptoms of joint pain and swelling vary from person to person, notes the American College of Rheumatology. Lupus arthritis can develop into muscle atrophy if the arthritis is left untreated, states the Lupus Foundation of America. Although lupus and arthritis are two separate diseases that often share common symptoms, laboratory tests and examination by a rheumatologist can help determine if a patient has lupus and if the two diseases are occurring at the same time.

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