Vasculitis is a complicated condition that involves blood vessel inflammation, including the arteries, veins, and capillaries. The inflammation can disrupt blood flow and damage various organs and tissues in the body. It can affect people of all ages and cause a wide range of symptoms.
Several types of vasculitis affect different organs or systems. For example:
- Giant Cell Arteritis: Primarily affects the large arteries that supply the head and neck, especially the temporal artery which is found over the temples, causing headaches, jaw pain, and vision problems.
- Kawasaki Disease: Primarily affects small and medium-sized arteries, most commonly in children under five, causing high fever, red eyes, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Takayasu Arteritis: Typically affects the main artery from the heart (the aorta), leading to weak pulse, chest pain, and fatigue.
While not fully understood, vasculitis is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own blood vessels by mistake. Possible triggers or risk factors for the condition include:
- Infections (such as hepatitis B or C, strep throat)
- Certain medications or drugs
- Genetic predisposition
- Exposure to chemicals or toxins
- Chronic diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus)
What Are the Symptoms of Vasculitis?
The symptoms of vasculitis may vary depending on which blood vessels are affected. Some common symptoms include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Joint pain or swelling
- Skin rashes or sores
- Shortness of breath
- Vision problems
- Nerve pain or numbness
How We Diagnose and Treat Vasculitis
Diagnosing vasculitis can be challenging, as it requires a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Some common tools include blood tests, imaging scans, and biopsies.
The objective of treatment for vasculitis is to reduce inflammation, manage symptoms, and prevent organ damage. Doctors may prescribe a combination of medications, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. In severe cases, surgery or other interventions may be necessary.
Choose SMC Physicians
Vasculitis can occur suddenly in a person who has previously been completely well – doctors call this primary vasculitis. It can also occur alongside other conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or Sjögren’s syndrome) – doctors call this secondary vasculitis. It can cause a range of symptoms and possible complications. Schedule an appointment with our Rheumatology team at SMC Physicians if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Some types of vasculitis can worsen quickly, so early diagnosis is the key to getting effective treatment.
Conditions We Treat
We provide ultrasound-guided arthrocentesis (joint injections) of both steroids and gel injections such as Orthovisc and Synvisc.
We offer a state-of-the art private infusion center at each location, offering the following medications and more:
Our Rheumatology Locations: