Because one of the symptoms of Lupus may be generalizes joint and muscle aches and pains, in the early stages it may be confused with other forms of arthritis such as Polymyalgia Rheumatica. For this reason then the diagnosis of Lupus can easily be missed or delayed. Here are just some of the differences between Lupus and Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
With Lupus there is often, though not always, the classical facial rash resembling a butterfly across the nose and cheeks. With Polymyalgia there is no such facial rash.
The onset of Lupus is usually at a relatively young age. Polymyalgia is a disease of older people with the average age of onset being 70 years of age.
The joints affected by Lupus tend to be the smaller joints of hands and feet not unlike rheumatoid arthritis in fact. The joints affected by Polymyalgia Rheumatica tend to be across the shoulders back and thighs.
Lupus is a disease that tends to wax and wane and indeed may go into remission for long periods. Polymyalgia Rheumatica on the other hand tends to be chronic and unremitting.
Classically the symptoms of Polymyalgia are worse in the mornings or after long periods of inactivity such as a long car journey. This does not apply to Lupus at all.
Both Lupus and Polymyalgia are what’s known as autoimmune diseases but by asking the right questions and listening carefully to the patient the two really should never be confused. And yet it is amazing how often they are.