During the physical exam, your doctor may check you for swollen hands and painful, swollen joints. You might also need a blood test to check for a certain antibody that is associated with mixed connective tissue disease.
There's no cure for mixed connective tissue disease. Medication can help manage the signs and symptoms.
The type of medication prescribed depends on the severity of your disease and your symptoms. Medications can include:
- Corticosteroids. Drugs, such as prednisone (Deltasone, Rayos), can help prevent your immune system from attacking healthy cells and suppress inflammation. Side effects of corticosteroids can include mood swings, weight gain, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, weakened bones and cataracts.
- Antimalarial drugs. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can treat mild mixed connective tissue disease and might prevent flare-ups.
- Calcium channel blockers. This category of medications, including nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia) and amlodipine (Norvasc), that help relax the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels might be used to treat Raynaud's phenomenon.
- Other immunosuppressants. Your doctor might prescribe other medications based on your signs and symptoms. For example, if they're similar to those of lupus, your doctor might recommend medications typically prescribed for people with lupus.
- Pulmonary hypertension medications. Bosentan (Tracleer) or sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra) might be prescribed.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Other ways to control symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might help relieve the pain and inflammation if your condition is mild.
- Protecting hands from cold. Wearing gloves and taking other measures to keep your hands warm can help prevent Raynaud's phenomenon.
- Not smoking. Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, which can worsen the effects of Raynaud's phenomenon.
- Reducing stress. Raynaud's phenomenon is often triggered by stress. Relaxation techniques — such as slowing and focusing on your breathing — can help reduce your stress levels.
Preparing for your appointment
You might be referred to a doctor who specializes in joint diseases (rheumatologist).
What you can do
Have a friend or relative accompany you to your appointment to help you retain the information you get.
Make a list of:
- Your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment, and when they began
- Key medical information, including other conditions you have and whether anyone in your family has had similar problems
- All the medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses
- Questions to ask your doctor
Some basic questions you might want answered include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What tests do I need?
- What treatments are available?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve or worsen your symptoms?