June 29, 2011

Lupus and Pain

If you are like most people with lupus, you have experienced pain at some time, especially in your joints and muscles, or in the form of headaches. However, the types of pain associated with lupus usually go away when the inflammation and disease activity are brought under control.

A variety of medicines can help ease pain caused by lupus and fibromyalgia. More information about medicines used to treat pain is available in the LFA publication, "Treating Lupus". Pain medicines are helpful, and in many instances necessary. But, because there are always risks and side effects, it is good to know some other approaches to pain relief.
  • Heat and/or cold applications are often recommended for different kinds of joint and muscle pain. Moist heat soothes painful joints much better than dry heat, so soaking in a hot tub, sauna, or whirlpool, using a moist heated towel, or taking a hot shower can be helpful. Ice or cold applications are advisable only for strained or twisted muscles or injuries during the first 36 hours after the injury.
  • Behavioral techniques, such as progressive relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, focused breathing, low-impact yoga, Tai Chi, and guided imagery also can be effective tools for pain management. By directing your mind’s attention away from the experience of pain, these methods help to relieve the stress and tension that can actually make pain worse. Safe and easy to do at home, these techniques have the added benefit of allowing you to take control of the pain, rather than just reacting to it and suffering with it.
  • Alternative and otherwise non-conventional health and healing practices also are used for pain relief and may be effective for you. Among these techniques are acupuncture and acupressure, biofeedback, and chiropractic adjustments. It is important that anyone with lupus who is considering complementary or alternative treatments for pain or other symptoms first discuss such treatments with his or her physician.
  • For more tips, check out Moving Past the Pain: Tried-and-True Alternatives to Relieve Chronic Pain from Lupus Now Magazine. 
Let's hear from you! Have you tried any of these alternatives to relieve your pain? What has worked for you? What hasn't?


    Aunt Bea said...

    As an EMT, I learned that oxygen is one of the cheapest and most pain-relieving 'drugs' available. So deep and slow breathing is a good start. I also take antioxidants to minimize the 'battle' in my immune system, drink lots of non-carbonated beverages (mostly water and tea) to keep my system flushed free of buildup. Even when in pain, I try to exercise and stretch, with yoga and walking, to keep or force my joints to be mobile. Since it is hard for me to get in and out of a tub, I have a stand-up shower With a hand-held head and let the HOT water soak my joints before bed and upon arising to ease the pain. I refuse to take any prescription drugs for pain or my arthritis, as they often cause more damage to my immune system. I occasionally take one of the "PM" drugs to help me sleep without pain.

    Anonymous said...

    I've had lupus for about 10 years now and have peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy tends to be my biggest source of pain aside from flares. I take Neurontin and a daily dose of Vicodin for the pain of shocks in my feet and hands but that doesn't always work. When it doesn't, I use icy-hot on the top of my feet and then wrap them with an ace bandages and that pressure definitely relieves the shocks. I'd be interested to know how others with neuropathy treat it.

    Susan Wallis said...

    It is really difficult to ease the pain, without taking some form of relief. I have, however, requested NON-NARCOTIC drugs, tramadol, to ease the pain. That seems to work quite nicely. I have several overlapping diseases in addition to the Lupus, and I have had a stroke. I would much rather have what's wrong with me now than what I was dealing with before. I had become addicted to Fioricet and went to a Rehab. I've been doing great for over 18 months now!!There is one thing for sure, the pain is not easy to have, I've always been afraid of pain!!

    Anonymous said...

    I have daily muscle pain from fibromyalgia.I am trying to stay awa y from daily narcotics, my cocktail is plaquenal, cymbalta, lodine, and lyrica. I was afraid of the lyrica because when I tried it in the past it made me groggy. i started with gabapenten this time around and switched to lyrica because it is slow released. I have a lot of leg pain after work and need the 2nd dose of lodine and etodolac to get to sleep. So far so good. All the meds suck but it is what it is.

    Kathryn Willoughby said...

    I've found that the more active I am in an exercise regimen, the better I feel. When I start getting lazy and stop working out on a daily basis, my body hurts a LOT more and the fatigue is compounded. It's always difficult getting through the first 30 minutes of exercise, but right about when I feel like I can't take anymore the endorphins kick in and carry me through the rest of the workout.
    Staying well hydrated helps too.
    Great article topic! Looking forward to reading other replies.

    Anonymous said...

    I have had Lupus for almost 3 years now, and I am on 2 different types of medication for it, Etodolac and Plaquenil. For now my pain is located in my joints and muscles. I take my meds on a regular basis...but there are times when they do hurt and i have to seek other alternatives for pain. I do use the hot and cold compress and hot showers, but I have the hardest time with exercise because I am always in pain, what should i do? Should I just suck it up and try it anyways?

    Niki said...

    I am 33yrs old and have been diagnosed about 6 yrs now though had problems with joints since 15yrs old when they claimed i was "false positive" for lupus.

    I am a personal trainer, aerobics instructor, gym owner, and nurse. My joints were my biggest problem. Constant pain in hips, knees, and shoulders mostly. Both rheumatology and orthopedic told me not to do weight bearing exercises only yoga and water aerobics. after watching my weight creep up I took an aerobics class called turbokick at a local gym. I came home loving the class but the it killed my joints. I was determined to stick with it since I liked the class so much. I would soak in my hot tub or ice down afterwards and take tylenol or ultracet. Well, I stuck with it, ignored the pain and today I TEACH turbokick amongst other classes and just came back from turbokick camp on the west coast and had a blast! My joints eventually adjusted to the workouts as did my fatigue. I of course still have bad days when i'm exhausted or joints really hurt but those days are far less than before. I am currently doing INSANITY and love it. MY point is, if you find something you enjoy, just do it. Unless there is serious damage being done I see nothing wrong with it. You can't always go by what the doctors say, you have to live your life. I'm 20lbs lighter and all that exercise gets the healty endorphines going and I feel great! It's not a cure, and again, it's not that i don't have ANY pain but it's honestly no worse or more often than when i didn't exercise.

    back pain Fairfax said...

    Be active and do some exercise. I think this is the most advisable thing to do. While exercise is important, it is also important to listen to your body. If you feel pain, you should immediately stop the exercise.