According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer from some form of Lupus. Worldwide, that estimate is 5 million.
Ninety percent of the people who are living with Lupus are women. Lupus typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 44.
The more common symptoms of Lupus include extreme fatigue, hair loss, and cognitive issues, to name a few. But Lupus can also create cardiovascular disease, stroke, and rashes.
Joint pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms of Lupus. Joint pain is more than a common symptom of Lupus: 65 percent of Lupus sufferers report that chronic pain - including joint pain - is the most difficult aspect of Lupus.
The joints most affected by Lupus are usually the ones farthest from the heart, such as the fingers, wrists, ankles, and toes. Knees and elbows are also affected. Though the joint pain from Lupus may not be as disabling as rheumatoid arthritis, it is severe enough to prevent many Lupus patients from working or from enjoying their leisure activities.
Lupus is also sometimes responsible for the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome, which creates pain in the hand and causes many people to be unable to work.
So how can you determine whether your joint pain may be Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis or another condition?
In both conditions, there are the commonalities of hand or wrist pain and "symmetric distribution," that is, the pain in the left hand will be the same as the pain in the right hand, and vice-versa.
The chief differences are that the joint pain associated with Lupus is not as severe as that of arthritis, due largely to less swelling, and there are shorter instances of morning stiffness. And unlike rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus does not usually cause erosion or destruction of the bones.
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