The Rheumatology Center in the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute at UConn Health has nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis and treatment of connective tissue disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome and anti-phospholipid syndrome.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the joints causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Anyone can get the disease, though it occurs more often in women. Occasionally it can be self limiting but most often it is persistent. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause serious joint damage. Modern medications have produced significant improvements so that joint damage can be limited and life styles not inhibited. We offer our patients the most current treatments to limit the potentially debilitating effects of this disease. In addition we work in conjunction with the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute in multiple aspects of care.


The immune system is designed to attack foreign substances in the body. If you have lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system and it attacks healthy cells and tissues. This can damage many parts of the body such as the joints, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain. There are many kinds of lupus but the most common type is systemic lupus erythematosus. Anyone can get lupus, but it most often affects women. Lupus is also more common in women of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent than in Caucasian women. The clinicians in the Rheumatology Center are both nationally and internationally recognized for their experience in the management of all forms of lupus.


Derived from the Greek words "sklerosis," meaning hardness, and "derma," meaning skin, scleroderma literally means hard skin. Though it is often referred to as if it were a single disease, scleroderma is really a symptom of a group of diseases that involve the abnormal growth of connective tissue, which supports the skin and internal organs. In some forms of scleroderma, hard, tight skin is the extent of this abnormal process. In other forms, however, the problem goes much deeper, affecting blood vessels and internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Scleroderma is believed to be an autoimmune disease and is more common in women but the disease also occurs in men and children. It affects people of all races and ethnic groups.

We care for a large population of scleroderma patients and are known nationally and internationally for our expertise in this area. Our patients have access to the latest clinical trials in this relatively rare but serious disease.

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an inflammatory disease that can affect many different parts of the body, but most often affects the tear and saliva glands. Patients with this condition may notice irritation, a gritty feeling, or painful burning in the eyes. Dry mouth or difficulty eating dry foods and swelling of the glands around the face and neck are also common. Roughly 1 to 2 percent of the population has Sjögren's syndrome. This condition can affect people of any age, but symptoms usually appear between the ages of 45 and 55. It affects ten times as many women as men and sometimes develops as a complication of another autoimmune disorder. It is a relatively under diagnosed disease. At the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute we have a large group of Sjögren’s syndrome patients and are one of the larger centers for this condition.

Antiphospholipid Syndrome

This is a condition that can occur by itself or in conjunction with lupus or other connective tissue diseases. The affected patients are prone to blood clots and pregnancy losses. Over the years we at the Rheumatology Center have successfully managed women with this condition who are at risk for a miscarriage and seen them through their pregnancy to a successful outcome.


Myositis is the general term used to describe inflammation of the muscles. Dermatomyositis and polymyositis are all considered inflammatory myopathies. Inflammatory myopathies are thought to be autoimmune diseases. All of these diseases can cause muscle weakness, but each type is different. Some early signs of myositis include trouble rising from a chair, tired feeling after standing or walking and difficulty swallowing or breathing. Myositis may occur on its own or in conjunction with other connective tissue diseases.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. In fact, more than half of the population age 65 or older has X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. Both men and women have the disease. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement. Scientists do not know yet what causes the disease, but they suspect a combination of factors, including being overweight, the aging process, joint injury, and stresses on the joints from certain jobs and sports activities.

We offer our patients the most up to date treatment for the management of OA, including physical therapy, intra-articular injections and quality of life management. If non surgical management fails, then we work closely with the specialists in our Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and Comprehensive Spine Center to optimize care.

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud's disease is a condition that causes some areas of your body – such as your fingers, toes, tip of your nose and your ears – to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress. It's a disorder of the blood vessels that supply blood to your skin. During a Raynaud's attack, these arteries narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas. Typically, fingers or toes change color on cold exposure appearing white or blue. Women are more likely than men are to have the disorder. It's more common in people who live in colder climates.