Coping and Support

Connective tissue disorders can have potentially debilitating symptoms, particularly during periods where the disease is active, which may affect your ability to function in your day-to-day life. Some troublesome symptoms can include:

  • In systemic lupus erythematosus, pain at multiple sites and extreme fatigue.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to crippling joint deformities.
  • Thickened skin leaves people with scleroderma with stiffness and loss of dexterity, making simple tasks like picking up a pencil difficult.
  • Muscle weakness leaves people with dermatomyositis easily fatigued.

You can manage the physical impact of the symptoms of connective tissue disease by:

  • Following your personal treatment plans to minimize symptoms and keep the disease under control.
  • Practising techniques that protect the joints. For example,
  • take breaks between heavy tasks to allow weak muscles to rest
  • use devices such as canes and carts to take stress off the joints
  • use aids such as grab bars and shower seats to avoid falls
  • Practising relaxation techniques to relax muscles and reduce pain

In addition, you may experience feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or depression from knowing that these disorders are at present incurable. To manage the psychological impact of these disorders:

  • Practise relaxation techniques to reduce stress and fatigue
  • Obtain professional counselling to develop a positive outlook, manage stress, and gain a feeling of control


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