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Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease

Arthritis Northwest PLLC -  - Rheumatology

Arthritis Northwest PLLC

Rheumatology located in Spokane, WA & Spokane Valley, WA

Undifferentiated connective tissue disease occurs when you have the symptoms of a connective tissue disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, but yet don’t meet diagnostic criteria for any specific illness. The compassionate rheumatologists at Arthritis Northwest PLLC in Spokane, Washington, understand that undifferentiated connective tissue disease is a real disease that requires a customized approach to diagnosis and treatment. Schedule your evaluation by calling the office and booking an appointment. Or, visit us online.

Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease Q & A

What is undifferentiated connective tissue disease?

Undifferentiated connective tissue disease is an autoimmune disease that features signs and symptoms of other illnesses. But, with undifferentiated connective tissue disease, you don't yet meet the particular diagnostic criteria for another disease. 

This disease usually features symptoms consistent with one or more connective tissue diseases, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Systemic sclerosis 
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis

Symptoms can overlap with many of these connective tissue diseases, so undifferentiated connective tissue disease can be especially challenging to identify.

As with many other connective tissue diseases, the specific cause of this disease isn’t certain. Researchers believe that a genetic predisposition combined with a particular trigger, such as an infection, is a likely cause. 

What are the symptoms of undifferentiated connective tissue disease?

The symptoms of undifferentiated connective tissue disease can be different for every person and they may fluctuate, occurring in flare-ups similar to those of other connective tissue diseases. Your symptoms could be mild or severe and could include:

  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Raynaud's phenomenon (limited blood flow to extremities)
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Cheek rash
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Fever

People with undifferentiated connective tissue disease almost never have neurological symptoms or kidney issues, both of which can occur in some connective tissue diseases.

How is undifferentiated connective tissue disease diagnosed?

Diagnosing undifferentiated connective tissue disease can be a lengthy process and may include many types of tests. There's no universal set of criteria for diagnosing undifferentiated connective tissue disease. 

In most cases, the diagnostic process starts with ruling out other diseases. To do this, you usually need blood tests and X-rays, or other imaging studies. 

How is undifferentiated connective tissue disease treated?

Treatment involves managing specific symptoms while also decreasing the excessive activity within your immune system. You may need nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs that also treat connective tissue diseases, or corticosteroids. 

Naturopathic medicine may also help with some of your symptoms. Arthritis Northwest PLLC partners with a naturopathic physician to give you the most comprehensive care.

Your symptoms may change over time, and you might eventually be diagnosed with a connective tissue disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. At that point, your provider may start you on a different treatment path targeted to that disease. 

Undifferentiated connective tissue disease can be frustrating and challenging to live with, but the experts at Arthritis Northwest PLLC can help you overcome symptoms and live a better life. Call the office to book an appointment now. Or, visit us online.