Conventional Medical Treatments for Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease
What is undifferentiated connective tissue disease?
Connective tissue diseases (CTDs) are autoimmune diseases that affect the body’s connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, or blood vessels. Undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) is a type of CTD that has characteristics of a connective tissue disease but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for one of the more than 200 specific types of CTD.
Medication is the primary conventional medical treatment for undifferentiated connective tissue disease. Prescribed medications vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms; however, commonly used medications include corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and antimalarials.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective at reducing pain and inflammation. They may be especially beneficial for UCTD that involves joint symptoms, such as arthritis. Naproxen and celecoxib are examples of NSAIDs used for the treatment of UCTD.
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can also be used to decrease inflammation. They calm the body’s overactive immune system response present in autoimmune conditions.
- Antimalarials are most commonly used to treat mild cases of arthritis or symptoms affecting the skin or mucous membranes. They can also be used to help prevent flare-ups. An example of an antimalarial used to treat UCTD is hydroxychloroquine.
- Immunosuppressants suppress the immune system and are generally only used when symptoms are severe. Examples include methotrexate and azathioprine.
- Calcium channel blockers may be used for individuals who experience Raynaud’s phenomenon. Nifedipine and diltiazem are examples of calcium channel blockers that may be used as part of treatment for these individuals.
Although there is no cure for UCTD or other connective tissue diseases, medications can help reduce symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and improve overall quality of life.