Linking to Lupus
Lupus nephritis, the form of lupus affecting the kidneys, is a risk factor for increased uric acid in the body. But, lupus can also increase the risk in other ways. The symptoms that go along with lupus, such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and medications, such as diuretics, can contribute to gout.
The two conditions can also be part of an unfortunate cycle. Crystals trigger the body’s inflammatory response, leading to lupus flares; lupus flares can increase kidney damage making it harder for the body to clear uric acid. That is part of the reason why it is so important to detect and treat gout when it shows up with lupus.
Telling the Conditions Apart
The biggest issue with lupus and gout is that one can mask the other. If your doctor assumes that your joint pain is from lupus, the pain can get worse. On the other hand, if you have undiagnosed lupus and your doctor assumes gout, lupus can go untreated.
This association between the conditions has been known for decades. In a case study from 1988, the researchers concluded:
“Gout should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with SLE who present with acute arthritis and/or subcutaneous nodules particularly in those with longstanding stable nephritis who are receiving diuretics for concomitant hypertension.”
“Differential diagnosis” is the process clinicians use to distinguish one condition from another when there are similar features or symptoms.
Telling the difference between gout and lupus is tricky, but there are a few observable symptoms that help:
- Lupus can impact joints throughout the body. It generally has less swelling and more variation in pain
- Gout will usually be in the feet and ankles, though it can spread to the hands. It causes swelling, redness, and intense pain.