What is the difference between Lupus and RA?

What is Lupus and RA?

Both autoimmune diseases, Lupus and rheumatoid (RA), are both lupus. The two diseases can sometimes be confused, as they share many symptoms.

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Autoimmune diseases are when your immune system attacks cells within your body. This can trigger inflammation and damage healthy tissue. Although scientists aren’t certain of the causes of autoimmune diseases, they can be passed from one generation to another.

An autoimmune disease is more common in women than it is in men. According to the National Institutes of Health, women who are Hispanic, Native-American, or African-American are more at risk.

What are the similarities between lupus & RA?

Joint pain is the most common symptom between RA, lupus and RA. Although joint swelling is a common symptom, the severity of the inflammation can vary. Both conditions can cause your joints become tender and hot. However, RA is more common.

Your energy levels can also be affected by RA and Lupus. You might experience constant fatigue or weakness if you have one of these diseases. A periodic fever, which is a symptom of both RA and Lupus, can also be a sign. However, it’s more common in RA.

What is the difference between lupus & RA?

There are many distinctions between Lupus and RA. Lupus can affect your joints but is more likely to damage your internal organs than RA. Life-threatening complications can also be caused by lupus. These complications can include kidney disease, clotting problems or seizures.

RA is a disease that mainly affects your joints. It can affect your fingers, wrists and knees as well as your ankles. It can cause deformities in joints, but lupus doesn’t usually.

In some cases, RA can be linked to inflammation around the heart and the lungs. Fortunately, this is now less common than in the past thanks to the available therapies.

RA pain is more severe in the morning, but it tends to improve as the day goes on. Lupus can cause joint pain that is persistent throughout the day, and it can also migrate.

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The confusion between the diseases

These two diseases have some similarities, so people can be misdiagnosed as having RA when they really have Lupus.

Doctors can identify RA once it is severe. If the appropriate treatment is not given, bone erosion and deformity can occur. However, bone erosions are rare in Lupus.

Doctors can often diagnose RA or lupus by looking at the symptoms in the early stages. Lupus can cause anemia, weight loss, and kidney damage.

Anemia can also be caused by RA, but it may more often lead to pulmonary problems. To check your organ health and determine if there is another reason for the symptoms, a doctor may order a blood panel.

Criteria for diagnosing a condition

It can be difficult for both lupus as well as rheumatoid to diagnose both. It is particularly difficult to diagnose lupus and rheumatoid arthritis early in the disease, when there are few symptoms.

You must meet at minimum four of these diagnostic criteria to be diagnosed with systemic Lupus.

Acute cutaneous lupus includes malar rash. This rash is also known as butterfly rash and appears on the nose and cheeks.

Chronic cutaneous Lupus (also known as discoid Lupus) is characterized by raised red patches and chronic cutaneous inflammation.

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  • Nonscarring Alopecia (hair thinning and breaking at multiple sites)
  • Joint disease includes arthritis, but it doesn’t cause bone loss
  • Serositis symptoms include inflammation of the linings of the heart and lungs.
  • neurological symptoms, including seizure or psychosis
  • Kidney symptoms include protein or cellular casts in urine or a biopsy that proves lupus kidney disease.

Hemolytic anemia

  • Low white blood cell count
  • Low platelet count
  • Antibodies to double-stranded genetic DNA
  • Antibodies to the Sm nuclear antigen
  • Antiphospholipid antibodies, which include antibodies to cardiolipin.
  • Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) are present
  • Low levels of complement (a type of immune protein)
  • Positive test for antibodies against red cells

You must score at least six points on RA’s classifications scale to be considered for diagnosis. This is the scale:

  • Symptoms that affect more than one or two joints (up to five points).
  • Testing positive for rheumatoid protein antibodies or anticitrullinated proteins antibody in your blood (upto three points).
  • Positive C-reactive Protein (CRP), or Erythrocyte Segregation Tests (one point).
  • Symptoms lasting more than six weeks (one point).


A condition called comorbidity is when you have more than one disease. This is also called overlap disease. Both people with Lupus and those with RA may have symptoms from other conditions. People can also have symptoms of RA or Lupus.

There are no limits to the number of chronic conditions that you can have and no time limits on when you can develop another.

Lupus can often be accompanied by the following diseases:

  • Scleroderma
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • polymyositis-dermatomyositis
  • Thyroid disease
  • RA is often accompanied by the following diseases:
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Thyroid disease

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Treatment differences

Although there is no cure, treatment can help manage your symptoms. Lupus sufferers often take prescription drugs and corticosteroids to manage joint pain and inflammation.

Some people may need medication to treat skin conditions, heart disease, kidney problems, and other health issues. Sometimes, a combination of several medications is the best.

Cortisone shots can be given to people with rheumatoidarthritis to reduce inflammation. Patients may need to have a hip or knee replacement if the joint becomes too damaged. There are many medications that can be used to treat symptoms and prevent further damage.