Lupus tendinitis (lupus tendonitis), lupus tenosynovitis, and lupus enthesitis: What are they?
What is lupus tendinitis (also spelled lupus tendonitis)?
Lupus tendinitis (lupus tendonitis) and tenosynovitis are common in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The tendons are sinewy, inelastic fibrous tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. When muscles contract to move parts of the body, these strong tendons enable the muscles to move the much stronger bones. The movement of these tendons in unison with the body’s muscles and joints allows us to move. To demonstrate tendons to yourself, place your left fingers on the front bend of your right elbow. Then, bend your right elbow. The muscle just above this is your biceps. The hard, long structures just below the biceps that connect to the bone below the bend are the biceps tendons. If these were to become inflamed and painful, this would be “biceps tendonitis.”
Just as lupus can cause inflammation of the joints, it can also cause inflammation of the tendons (lupus tendonitis or lupus tendonitis). Tendonitis usually causes pain around and between the joints of the body. The joint pains seen in SLE are commonly due to lupus tendonitis (lupus tendonitis) rather than arthritis. One Japanese study in 2017 showed that 94% of their SLE patients with joint pains had tendon involvement (tendonitis and tenosynovitis), while 80% had joint (arthritis) involvement. Many patients had a combination of both.
The photo above shows the hands of Dr. Thomas' patients with severe damage to her tendons from lupus tendinitis and lupus tenosynovitis. We call this "Jaccoud's arthropathy." Jaccoud's arthropathy was first seen in people affected by rheumatic fever. Today, SLE is the most common cause.
Make sure to read my "Lupus Secrets" to learn to take care of and prevent problems such as lupus tendinitis.
Note that Dr. Thomas' posts are for informational purposes only, and are not meant to be specific medical advice for individuals. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions regarding your own medical situation.
DONALD THOMAS, MD