What Is The Treatment For Connective Tissue Disease?
There are two types of connective tissue diseases: autoimmune and inherited connective tissues disease. There is no cure for autoimmune connective tissue diseases; treatment is directed towards symptomatic management and in treating flare ups with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hydrocholorquine, corticosteroids, methotrexate, calcium channel blockers, pulmonary hypertension medication, cytotoxic drugs, and bisphosphonates and calcium and vitamin D supplements.
There is no cure for inherited connective tissue diseases. Aim is to control symptoms and treat complications with NSAID’s or paracetamol and physiotherapy for joint pain and deformities, antihypertensive drugs for high pressure, heart and vascular surgery hear and blood vessel problems and eye surgery.
Connective tissues combine the cells together and allow tissue stretching and allow it to return back to the normal size. Connective tissues are found in the skin, fat, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and blood vessels.
There are several types of connective tissue disorders and some of the connective tissue disorders are:
Autoimmune Connective Tissue Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Inherited Connective Tissue Disease
Autoimmune Connective Tissue Diseases
There is no cure for autoimmune connective tissue diseases, treatment is directed towards symptomatic management and in treating flare ups.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – arthritis and arthralgia symptoms can be controlled by NSAID’s. It also reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and improves the mobility and function. If you are taking COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors like diclofenac sodium, ibuprofen then you needs to take a proton pump inhibitor such as omeprazole. If not, you can take celecoxib which is a COX-2 inhibitor which has less gastrointestinal side effects.
Hydrocholorquine – this is an antimalarial drug, mild connective tissue disease can be controlled with hydrocholoquine and it also is effective in controlling the flare ups.
Corticosteroids – these prevent the immune system attacking the cells in the body and it also prevents the inflammation. Corticosteroids are reserved for severe connective tissue disease or if specific organ/s involved. If the connective tissue disease is severe higher doses of corticosteroids are needed to control the symptoms. It can be used combined with other drugs.
Methotrexate – it is an immune suppressant/ disease modifying drug mainly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, also used in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis.
Calcium Channel Blockers – calcium channel blockers prevent vasodilatation and antiplatelet effects. This is especially given to patients with Raynaud phenomenon. Calcium channel blockers and avoiding exposure to cold environment can help with the symptoms.
Pulmonary Hypertension Medication – these medications dilate the blood vessels in the lungs which are affected by the autoimmune inflammation. It acts by relaxing the smooth muscles in the lung vessels. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors (sildenafil) are the common drug used in pulmonary hypertension. Prostaglandins are also used for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, however, it is not lung selective therefore, it vasodilates all blood vessels in the body.
Cytotoxic Drugs – if a major organ is involved then moderate- high doses of corticosteroid and cytotoxic drugs are needed. Cyclophosphamide is a cytotoxic drug, it is an alkylating agent and it acts by cross-linking DNA which will interfere with the growth of normal and cancer cells, given as monthly IV infusion or in severe disease as oral drugs.
Bisphosphonates And Calcium And Vitamin D Supplements – if you are on long term steroids then you are at increased risk of osteoporosis, therefore you will be prescribed bisphosphonates along with calcium and vitamin D supplements. Also have plenty of calcium in your diet and expose yourself to morning sunlight for vitamin D
Inherited Connective Tissue Diseases
- There is no cure, aim is to control symptoms and treat complications.
- Joint pain and inflammation – NSAID’s or paracetamol can be given, physiotherapy
- Surgery for the correction of scoliosis, chest deformities and deformed joints
- Anti-hypertensives – to control the high blood pressure
- Heart and vascular surgery – aortic repair and blood vessel repair
- Eye surgery in Marfan syndrome