Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

Loading
Quick Facts

Overview of Autoimmune Disorders of Connective Tissue

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jun 2019| Content last modified Jun 2019
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Topic Resources

What is an autoimmune disorder?

Your immune system helps protect you from illness and infection. It usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. With an autoimmune disorder, your immune system makes a mistake and starts attacking parts of your own body.

What is an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?

Connective tissue is what holds your organs together. There's some connective tissue in every organ but especially in your skin, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.

An autoimmune disorder of connective tissue is a disease in which your immune system attacks your own connective tissue.

What are the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?

Symptoms depend on which disorder you have but can include:

  • Joint pain and swelling

  • Dry eyes

  • Skin rash, swelling, or lumps

  • Muscle aches

  • Fingers that get pale, tingly, and numb when you get cold (Raynaud syndrome)

How can doctors tell I have an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?

Doctors suspect you have an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue based on your symptoms and by doing:

  • Blood tests

  • Sometimes a biopsy (taking out a small piece of tissue to look at under a microscope)

How do doctors treat an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?

Doctors treat these disorders with:

  • Corticosteroids and other medicine that slow down your immune system and keep it from attacking your own tissue

If you take corticosteroids at high doses or for a long period of time, you have a higher chance of having osteoporosis (weak bones). Doctors may have you take vitamin D, calcium, and medicine to keep your bones strong.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Also of Interest

Videos

View All
Bones
Video
Bones
Gout
Video
Gout

SOCIAL MEDIA

TOP