Arthritis and Secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome


What is secondary Sjogren syndrome?

Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, damages moisture-producing cells making it difficult for saliva and tears to be produced. Infiltration of lymphocytes into target organs is a hallmark of the disease. Primary Sjogren’s syndrome is when Sjogren’s syndrome manifests by itself.

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Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome is a condition that occurs when you have an autoimmune disease. Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome can cause milder symptoms. You will still have symptoms from the coexisting condition. Secondary Sjogren’s most commonly occurs when there is another type of autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eyes, dry mouth, dry throat, and lower airways. It is possible to have trouble eating or tasting your food. A cough, hoarseness or dental problems may occur. Vaginal dryness can occur in women.

Both primary and secondary forms can present similar symptoms.

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Fièvre
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • Nerve pain

Sjogren’s causes are less often:

  • Skin rash
  • major gastrointestinal problems
  • Inflammation of the liver, kidneys or pancreas.
  • Infertility and premature menopause
  • These conditions can be accompanied by Secondary Sjogren’s:
  • Primary biliary Cholangitis
  • lupus
  • Scleroderma

Although RA symptoms include joint stiffness, inflammation, and pain, there are other symptoms that can be present, such as Sjogren’s. These symptoms include:

  • mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss
  • Risk factors

The Cleveland Clinic estimates that more than one million Americans have primary Sjogren’s. Over 90% of primary Sjogren’s sufferers are women. Sjogren’s can be diagnosed at any age but is most commonly diagnosed after 40 according to the Mayo Clinic. It is not known what causes Sjogren’s. It’s a disorder in the immune system, similar to RA.

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Although the exact cause of RA remains unknown, there is a genetic component. You are at high risk of developing RA if you have a relative with an autoimmune disease like RA.


Sjogren’s is a complex disease. There are no specific tests. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, dryness of the eyes and mouth can be a sign that you are being diagnosed. You may also experience severe gastrointestinal problems and nerve pain (neuropathy).

A series of tests is required to diagnose secondary Sjogren’s disease with RA. These tests include SSA/SSB antibody testing and a lower lip biopsy to check for lymphocyte foci. To test for dry eyes, you may be referred by an eye doctor. You may also be referred to an eye doctor to rule out other possible causes.

There are many treatment options

Sjogren’s and arthritis are incurable diseases. Treatment is necessary to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. The severity of your symptoms will determine the treatment plan. Most likely, you will need to try multiple treatments. There are many options:

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OTC pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication may be an option if you are experiencing aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), may be helpful.

They may not be enough. Ask your doctor for antirheumatic and immunosuppressive medication. They reduce inflammation and prevent your body’s attack on its healthy tissues.

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