According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 54.4 million adults in the United States suffer from arthritis, representing nearly 25% of the population of the country.
Collagen vascular disease or connective tissue disease, has been the major cause of disability that causes pain, aching, swelling, and stiffness of the joints.
Some of these diseases are similar to each other. They may involve arthritis and inflammation of arteries in the tissues.
“Collagen vascular disease is a group of arthritic problems that have their basis in autoimmune difficulties that human beings have,” said Corpus Christi Medical Center/Thomas-Spann Clinic Dr. George Benavidez.
There are a number of different types of collagen vascular disease. There are those that are caused by inherited (genetic) abnormalities or by environmental factors.
“Rheumatoid arthritis can have a positive rheumatoid factor. The other diseases that are in this group as systemic lupus erythematosus, better known as lupus. Lupus has a butterfly rash that is very prominent. Most folks that have lupus are females; there is an age group at age 15-18 and young females that have a high risk. But most patients that have this type of risk are usually adults females about age 30- 40,”said Benavidez.
Signs and symptoms of collagen vascular disease vary depending on the type of collagen vascular disease and what parts of the body are involved.
“We diagnose this certainly by the symptoms, which are arthritic pain, swelling, sometimes skin changes, including rashes. But basically, it’s the bloodwork that really gives the diagnosis to this particular type of group of diseases,” said Benavidez.
The treatment for collagen vascular disease varies according to your individual condition.
“If you have a joint that is hot, tender, and taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen for a few days, and it does not improve, then you need to see your physician and let that physician examine you. Perhaps you need an x-ray, perhaps you need an MRI, but for sure, you get some bloodwork and make sure you don’t have an autoimmune problem. It is surprising how common these things are,” said Benavidez.
The specific causes of most connective tissue diseases are not known. The outlook for collagen vascular disease varies from person to person, and it depends on their specific disease.
However, they do have one thing in common: All autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions. They have no cure, and you must manage them throughout your life.
Your doctors will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help you manage your symptoms.
Many collagen vascular diseases occur due to an autoimmune response in the body. These occur when the body’s normally protective immune cells mistakenly identify the body’s tissue as a foreign material, and attack it with an inflammatory response.
This inflammation damages the tissue and its organ involved. What environmental factor/s trigger the autoimmune reaction, however, is unknown.
Symptoms of collagen vascular disease:
• muscle weakness
• body aches
• joint pain
• skin rash
Symptoms of lupus:
Lupus is a collagen vascular disease that causes unique symptoms in each patient. Additional symptoms can include:
• shortness of breath
• chest pain
• dry eyes
• mouth ulcers
• recurrent miscarriages
People with lupus may have long periods of remission without symptoms. Symptoms can flare up during times of stress or after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1.3 million adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Inflammation of the connective tissue between the joints causes pain and stiffness. You may have chronic problems with dry eyes and a dry mouth. Your blood vessels or the lining of your heart may become inflamed if you have this form of collagen vascular disease.
Symptoms of scleroderma:
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that can affect your:
• digestive tract
• other organs
The symptoms include thickening and hardening of the skin, rashes, and open sores. Your skin may feel tight, as if it’s being stretched, or feel lumpy in areas. Systemic scleroderma can cause:
• breathing difficulties
• acid reflux
• joint pain
• numbness in your feet
Symptoms of temporal arteritis:
Temporal arteritis, or giant cell arteritis, is another form of collagen vascular disease. Temporal arteritis is an inflammation of the large arteries, typically those in the head. The symptoms are most common in adults over the age of 70 and can include:
• scalp sensitivity
• jaw pain
• vision loss