Managing Pain from Lupus

Page content

Ninety percent of lupus patients experience muscle and joint pains brought about by the inflammation of the joints. But what sets apart lupus pain from other forms of pain is that this is usually not obvious. Pain symptoms normally wax and wane just like other symptoms of lupus. Hence, everyday life can be a challenge when lupus pain is not properly managed. Managing pain from lupus requires the involvement of support groups such as family, coworkers and other trusted people in the patient’s environment.

Types of Lupus Pain

The first thing to know about pain management is the knowledge of the different types of lupus pain. There are three types of pain suffered by lupus patients. These pains are brought about by arthritis, fibromyalgia or lupus myositis.


Pain from arthritis is a common symptom among lupus patients. The pain due to the inflammation of the joints may be coupled with tenderness and stiffness. The most common points of arthritis are the elbows, wrists, fingers as well as the knees and toes.


It is estimated that roughly 25 percent of lupus sufferers may also suffer from fibromyalgia. This can cause chronic joint and muscle pain. The cause of this condition is unknown but its occurrence can lead to fatigue and stiffness.

Lupus myositis

This condition is the inflammation of the skeletal muscles, the muscle tissues connected to the bones. This type of pain is also common among lupus patients and can cause muscle weakness and pain.

Medical Treatments to Manage Lupus Pain

To manage the pain from lupus, three of the proven effective medical treatmemts include NSAIDs, antimalarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine, and corticosteroids.

NSAIDS like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are normally first employed to control pain associated with lupus. Another important medical treatment for lupus are antimalarial drugs. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is the most common antimalarial drug prescribed to prevent lupus flares as well as in cases when the NSAIDs are not providing pain relief.

Corticosteroids are usually the last option to manage the pain due to lupus. Although it can counter inflammation and provide relief from pain, the side effects include weight gain, bone thinning and even osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of infection.

Non-Medical Forms of Lupus Pain Management

There are certain cases when the chronic pain from lupus may not respond to medications. Pain management specialists can be of help to provide non-medical treatment options to manage the pain. The options include physical and occupational therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture and even massage.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical and occupational therapy can help manage lupus pains. This is done through exercises that are designed to maintain the joint’s full range of motion. Furthermore, these forms of treatment can strengthen the muscles as well as protect the joints from injury.


Biofeedback is defined as the process of employing high-tech monitoring equipment to provide instantaneous information about your biological conditions. These mind-body techniques take advantage of the fact that the mind has the ability to influence the symptoms in the body. Effective biofeedback techniques include electromyography (EMG), thermal (temperature) biofeedback, electrodermal activity (EDA), finger pulse feedback, and respiration feedback. Professional psychologists who can provide biofeedback treatments can also recommend breathing exercises, relaxation training and meditation as integral parts of the pain management plan and to lower stress levels.


The National Institutes of Health has declared that acupuncture is an effective treatment providing pain relief, including pain associated with fibromyalgia. In fact, the Journal Lupus published a recent research revealing that a few sessions of acupuncture may be effective in reducing lupus pain.


Massage is also a relaxing and soothing treatment option to provide pain relief. It is however, recommended to choose a massage therapist with experience working with lupus sufferers.


Managing pain from lupus can be achieved in several ways. In choosing the right treatment option for your case, whether medical or non-medical treatment approach, it is always important to consult your doctor for proper guidance and monitoring of the condition. To live a normal life despite the lupus, it is also recommended that one should involve support groups like family, colleagues at job and friends with the battle against pain.