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Most lupus give joint pain (arthralgia), more rarely joint swelling (arthritis). Usually, there is no joint deformation in lupus, but several abnormalities can be observed.
Arthritis: joint swelling that disappears with treatment. Painful swelling of the joints, most often of the fingers, accompanied by morning stiffness (“rusting”) is related to inflammation (arthritis). They disappear rapidly with lupus treatments.
Rarely, deformities related to a dislocation of the tendons of the fingers can appear. These deformities resemble to those of rheumatoid arthritis, but are not linked to a destruction of the bones of the joint. Only the tendons are affected, and the deformation can be reduced in the early phase.
This type of deformation called "Jaccoud's hand" does not reflect a real activity of lupus. It requires care with rehabilitation exercises, the wearing of orthotics at night and, possibly, a surgical procedure.
Exceptionally, lupus can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis (adult) or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (childhood).
This association is sometimes called "rhupus": "rh" for rheumatoid arthritis and "upus" for lupus. In this case, the joint damage observed may be the same as in rheumatoid arthritis, with erosions, and sometimes non-reducible destruction of the affected joints.
It will be managed in the same way as rheumatoid arthritis, often with excellent results to prevent the risk of joint destruction.
Lupus often gives joint pain, but lasting deformities are very rare. These pains regress most of the time with treatments.