Strategies for managing pain

If you are like most people with lupus, you have likely experienced pain at some point. The good news is that pain caused by lupus usually goes away when inflammation and symptoms are treated and under control.

Chronic and often severe muscle aches and pain, however, are the main symptom of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects about 30 percent of people with lupus. People with fibromyalgia can have extreme pain and sensitivity at 18 “tender points” in the body. These tender spots are located on both sides of the body and occur at the same time. Areas commonly affected include the neck, shoulders, chest, hips, knees, and elbows.

Strategies to relieve pain:

  • Medications: A variety of medicines can help ease pain caused by lupus and fibromyalgia. Pain medicines are helpful and often necessary. Keep in mind, there are risks and side effects with medications. So, it’s good to know some other approaches to pain relief.
  • Heat: Joint and muscle pain can benefit from applying heat. Moist heat soothes painful joints much better than dry heat. Soaking in a hot tub, sauna, or whirlpool, using a moist heated towel, or taking a hot shower can be helpful.
  • Ice: Only use ice or cold applications for strained or twisted muscles or injuries. Follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Begin soon after the injury occurs and continue to apply it for at least 48 hours.
  • Behavioral Strategies: Techniques, such as progressive relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, focused breathing, low-impact yoga, Tai Chi, and guided imagery can be helpful tools for pain management. These methods direct your mind’s attention away from the painful experience. That’s how they help to relieve the stress and tension that can actually make pain worse. These techniques have the added benefit of allowing you to take control of the pain, rather than reacting to and suffering with it. They are also safe and easy to do at home.

You may find pain relief from using other types of complementary health practices, like acupuncture, acupressure, and biofeedback. If you are considering complementary or alternative treatments for pain or other symptoms, discuss them first with your doctor.