Mixed connective tissue disease features signs and symptoms of a combination of disorders — primarily of lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis. For this reason, mixed connective tissue disease is sometimes referred to as an overlap disease.

In mixed connective tissue disease, the symptoms of the separate diseases usually don't appear all at once. Instead, they tend to occur in sequence over a number of years, which can make diagnosis more complicated.

Early signs and symptoms often involve the hands. Fingers may swell up like sausages, and the fingertips might turn white and become numb. In later stages, some organs — such as the lungs, heart and kidneys — may be affected.

Mixed connective tissue disease occurs most commonly in young women. Treatment often includes drugs such as prednisone.

May. 30, 2012