15:38 PM

What Is Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease? Here’s How to Know If You Have It

CreakyJoints reports on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) according to experts including HSS rheumatologist Michael D. Lockshin, MD.

Dr. Lockshin explained UCTD is a condition in people who have symptoms and lab test results that indicate a systemic autoimmune disorder or connective tissue disease, but which do not meet enough such characteristics to indicate a diagnosis for a well-defined connective tissue disease. “UCTD isn’t as clear-cut a diagnosis in the sense that lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can be in many cases,” he said.

Dr. Lockshin cited for many people with UCTD, the main signs are achy joints and arthritis in the elbows, wrists, hands, and knees in a symmetrical pattern. People with UCTD generally don’t have as much swelling and the pain is transient. “Some days are good, other days aren’t so good,” he said, however, just because the pain can come and go doesn’t mean it’s not debilitating. “Some of these people have really devastating disease that you can’t put a label on. Others describe it as sort of mild nuisance, and there’s everything in between,” noted Dr. Lockshin. “The arthritis pain can be just as bad as that in rheumatoid arthritis or lupus arthritis. It’s just that you can’t pin it down to a specific of one of those names.”

A rheumatologist may order blood and imaging tests, and biopsies as part of the diagnosis, and the UCTD diagnosis can have its drawbacks. “If the tests don’t come back positive, some doctors tend to say, ‘Oh it’s in your head,’ and dismiss patients,” said Dr. Lockshin. Getting insurance to cover tests and treatments is yet another issue, he added.

There is no FDA-approved treatment for UCTD. Instead, doctors treat the symptoms with medication including Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hydroxychloroquine.

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.