There are more than 200 different types of connective tissue diseases. They may be inherited, caused by environmental factors, or most often, are of unknown cause. Connective tissue diseases include, but are not limited to:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common connective tissue diseases and can be inherited. RA is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system attacks its own body. In this systemic disorder, immune cells attack and inflame the membrane around joints. It also can affect the heart, lungs and eyes. It affects many more women than men (an estimated 71% of cases).
- Scleroderma: An autoimmune condition that causes scar tissue to form in the skin, internal organs (including the GI tract), and small blood vessels. It affects women three times more often than men throughout life, occurring at a rate of 15 times greater for women during childbearing years.
- Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA, formerly called Wegener’s): A form of vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) that affects the nose, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
- Churg-Strauss Syndrome: A type of autoimmune vasculitis that affects cells in the blood vessels of the lungs, gastrointestinal system, skin and nerves.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): A disease that can cause inflammation of the connective tissue in every organ of the body, from the brain, skin, blood, to the lungs. It’s nine times more common in women than in men.
- Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA): An autoimmune disease that affects cells in blood vessels in organs throughout the body. This is a rare condition.
- Polymyositis/dermatomyositis: A disease characterized by inflammation and degeneration of the muscles. When the condition also affects the skin, it’s called dermatomyositis.
- Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), also called the Sharp syndrome: A condition that has some, but not all, features of various connective tissue diseases, such as SLE, scleroderma, and polymyositis. MCTD may also have features of Raynaud’s syndrome.
- Undifferentiated connective tissue disease(s): Conditions that have characteristics of connective tissue diseases but don't meet the guidelines as defined at a particular time. Some people with these conditions will eventually go on to develop a specific type of connective tissue disease, but most will not.