Mixed connective tissue disease has signs and symptoms of a combination of disorders — primarily lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis. In mixed connective tissue disease, the symptoms of the separate diseases usually don’t appear all at once. Instead, they tend to occur in sequence over a number of years, which can make diagnosis more complicated. People who take corticosteroids are at risk of fractures related to osteoporosis. To prevent osteoporosis, these people are given the drugs used to treat osteoporosis, such as bisphosphonates and supplemental vitamin D and calcium.
The treatment is similar to that of lupus. Corticosteroids are usually effective, especially when the disease is diagnosed early. Mild cases can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hydroxychloroquine or similar drugs, or very low doses of corticosteroids. The more severe the disease, the higher the dose of corticosteroid needed. In severe cases, immunosuppressive drugs (such as azathioprine, methotrexate, or cyclophosphamide) may also be needed.