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Musculoskeletal manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus

Authors
Peter H Schur, MD
Daniel J Wallace, MD
Section Editor
David S Pisetsky, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH

INTRODUCTION

Involvement of the musculoskeletal system is extremely common in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Arthralgia, arthritis, osteonecrosis (avascular necrosis of bone), and myopathy are the principal manifestations. Osteoporosis, often due to glucocorticoid therapy, may increase the risk of fractures.

The musculoskeletal manifestations of SLE in adults are reviewed here. SLE in children and an overview of the clinical manifestations of SLE in adults are presented separately. (See "Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in children: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis" and "Overview of the clinical manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults".)

ARTHRITIS AND ARTHRALGIAS

Arthritis and arthralgias have been noted in up to 95 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These symptoms may be mistaken for another type of inflammatory arthritis and can precede the diagnosis of SLE by months or years.

Clinical characteristics — Arthritic symptoms in patients with SLE have the following characteristics that are generally different from those in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (table 1) [1-4]:

The arthritis and arthralgias of SLE tend to be migratory; symptoms in a particular joint may be gone within 24 hours.

            

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Aug 30 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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