Strategies for Managing Pain
Many people with lupus have pain in their muscles or joints. The good news is that there are steps you can take to feel better. Together, you and your doctor can create a pain management plan that works for you.
Talk to your doctor
Tell your doctor how pain affects your daily life. Your doctor may run some tests to learn what’s causing your pain so that they can figure out the best way to help you.
Pain in your muscles or joints may be caused by active lupus or by related conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can cause pain in many areas of the body, including the neck, shoulders, chest, hips, knees, and elbows.
Depending on what’s causing your pain, your doctor may suggest different ways to manage it, like:
- Taking pain medicine. If your doctor suggests trying pain medicine, ask how it will work for you and what side effects to look out for.
- Treating lupus flares. Sometimes, joint and muscle pain can be a sign of a lupus flare. Your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressants or other medicines to get the flare under control. Learn more about medicines used to treat lupus.
- Doing physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you exercises and other ways to treat your pain at home.
- Getting enough sleep. Fatigue and lack of sleep may increase the pain you are experiencing. A regular sleep schedule may help reduce these symptoms.
You can also ask your doctor about trying alternative treatments like acupuncture, acupressure, or biofeedback.
Manage your pain at home
There are steps you can take to manage your pain at home, too.
- Apply heat to the area that hurts. When your muscles or joints hurt, heat can help you feel better. Try taking a hot shower, soaking in a bath or hot tub, or placing a warm towel on the area that hurts.
- Build exercise into your daily routine. Moving your body for just a few minutes each day can help you to manage pain. Always check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new type of exercise. Learn more about how exercise can help with lupus symptoms.
- Change your habits. Your doctor or physical therapist may ask you to avoid movements that cause pain, like typing or sitting in one position for long periods of time.
Take care of your mental health
Some people with lupus experience stress, anxiety, and depression, which can cause your muscles to tense up — potentially making your pain worse. Taking care of your mental health can help you to manage and respond to your pain more effectively.
Relaxing activities like low-impact yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi can help you shift your attention away from the pain and focus on the present moment. Learn more about meditation and how it can help you manage lupus pain.
Our health educators are available to answer your questions and give you the help you need.