Mixed Connective Tissue Disease

What is Mixed Connective Tissue Disease?

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease is known as an overlap syndrome because it has the characteristics of three different disorders that also alter the connective tissues of the body. These disorders include polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.

This disorder can occur in adults and children, but it is normally diagnosed in women who are younger than 30 years of age. The reasons why some people get this disorder is not fully known and although individuals cannot inherit this disorder, it seems to run in families. Other theories include being exposed to the chemicals in silica or polyvinyl chloride.

What are the Symptoms of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease?

The symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease often differ from one person to another, but they mimic the symptoms of the overlapped diseases. Common symptoms that imitate systemic lupus erythematosus include arthritic joints that are painful, kidney problems, breathing issues and chest pains.

Symptoms that copy scleroderma include swollen fingers that appear thick in girth and blue-colored fingers and toes, which occurs due to restricted blood flow to these digits. Doctors diagnose mixed connective tissue disease by taking blood tests and checking the levels of ANA and anti-RNP antibodies in the blood.

How is Mixed Connective Tissue Disease Treated?

The treatment of this disorder depends on the symptoms of each individual. Inflammation in the connective tissues is often treated with an immunosuppressive or an anti-inflammatory drug, such as prednisone, methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine. Some individuals use physical therapy to help relieve painful muscles and joints.

Topical medications, such as nifedipine and losartan, may be prescribed to improve blood flow to the extremities. If blood flow continues to be hindered, individuals may get gangrene in their fingers and toes. Kidney damage can be averted by taking captopril and enalapril. Individuals who have arthritis symptoms are often prescribed medications, such as adalimumab and infliximab.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017