Autoimmune Connective Tissue Disease

In early October I was diagnosed with MCTD, multiple connective tissue disease, a rare autoimmune disease. This is part of the Rheumatology family along with Lupus, Sjogren’s, RA, etc. 

It started back in January of this year. I’ve had severe spasms in my feet and toes for over a year but it was getting steadily worse and more frequent. I figured it was just Diabetic Neuropathy but my feet and ankles were swollen and going numb as well. Then my knees, hips, wrists, lower back started aching off and on. Nothing too annoying but it started happening more frequently, lasting longer, and hurting more. For the longest time I passed it off as just part of being old, overweight, and out of shape. I was being slightly more active around the yard and house after all. 

By mid-June the pain in my hips and lower back, a sharp burning ache, was almost every day, all day.  I could ignore the pain and stiffness in my knees and ankles BUT the lower back and hip pain was beginning to affect my daily activities. It hurt to sit, stand, move, or even lay down.  Some days all I did was lay in bed, pop Advil and ibuprofen, and try not to cry. 

Moving around helped my knees and ankles but not the hips/lower back issues. Then my hands started swelling and locking up. I had to “pop” my fingers to get them to unlock and move. This meant I was having issues typing which is a huge part of a call center job, along with sitting/standing for hours. 

MCTD is a mix of different connective tissue diseases. Not one specific disease but symptoms of usually 3 (minimum) diseases that overlap in symptoms. Like most of the connective tissue diseases, it is hard to diagnose or is misdiagnosed as something else. 

I have started the most common drug treatment, Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquinine), and have noticed that the swelling in my hands and feet is definitely going down. According to the rheumatologist it usually takes 3-4 months to really feel the effects of the drug. So hopefully this will “fix” my main problems for now. Like any chronic illness, with medication and care, symptoms can be reduced and life can be lived as normal without any major health complications. 

My next appointment with my rheumatologist is in December. Hopefully by then my aches and pains will have gone away or stabilized at an acceptable to me level. 


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  1. I hope you find relief! I know what that kind of constant, chronic pain is like.