Early indications of mixed connective tissue disease may include:
- General feeling of being unwell. This malaise may be accompanied by increased fatigue and a mild fever.
- Cold and numb fingers. One of the most common early indicators is known as Raynaud's phenomenon — in which your fingers feel cold and numb, often in response to cold or stress. Fingers may turn white and then purplish blue when the blood vessels constrict. After warming, the blood vessels relax, blood flow resumes and the fingers turn red. Toes also can be affected.
- Swollen fingers. Many people who have mixed connective tissue disease experience swelling in their hands and fingers, sometimes to the point where the fingers resemble sausages.
- Muscle and joint pain. Mixed connective tissue disease also can result in muscle aches and joint swelling and pain. In some cases, the joints may become deformed, similar to what is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that are bothersome or interfere with your daily routine — particularly if you've already been diagnosed with lupus or another connective tissue disease.
May 30, 2012
- Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Ortega-Hernandez OD, et al. Mixed connective tissue disease: An overview of clinical manifestations, diagnosis and treatment. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 2012;26:61.
- Bennett RM. Clinical manifestations of mixed connective tissue disease. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Mixed connective tissue disease. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/autoimmune_rheumatic_disorders/mixed_connective_tissue_disease_mctd.html?qt=mixed connective&alt=sh. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Saag KG, et al. Major side effects of systemic glucocorticoids. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Bennett RM. Prognosis and treatment of mixed connective tissue disease. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed March 23, 2012.
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