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Living with Lupus

Joint Pain & Swelling: Symptoms of Lupus

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Lupus can have a significant impact on joints. Learning how to care for joints while exhibiting symptoms helps maintain an overall sense of well-being and decreases the risk of future problems.

Lupus joint pain can cause general stiffness—usually in the morning—that gets somewhat better as the day progresses. Although lupus joint pain may not be actual arthritis, the pain and discomfort #LupusWarriors feel is very real. Continue reading to learn more about joint pain and lupus and ways to alleviate it.

lupus joint pain

Common Joint Pain for #LupusWarriors—Lupus Arthritis

Joint pain is often one of the first signs of disease activity for #LupusWarriors. As stated previously, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning. The medical term for morning pain is arthralgia. As the body gets going and loosens up, the pain can diminish. For some #LupusWarriors, the discomfort can creep back up later in the day at full force.

Lupus joint pain typically affects fingers, wrists, and knees. Other major joint areas like ankles, elbows, and shoulders are not typically affected as much but are a definite possibility.

As with rheumatoid arthritis, the pain mirrors on both sides of the body—if the right knee hurts, the left will hurt too. Another similar symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is the arthritic joint nodules. #LupusWarriors, however, rarely develop physical distortions symptomatic of rheumatoid arthritis such as collapsed ankles.

Impacts of Lupus Arthritis

The joint pain can come with swelling and heat. In fact, painful swollen joints are some of the first signs of lupus. Although temporary, when a person is in an increased disease state, the swollen and warm joints can significantly impact daily activity.

When experiencing joint pain from lupus, the main goal is to keep pain at an endurable and bearable level. Trying not to perform strenuous activity—in some cases, no activity at all—can speed recovery time and just help with maintaining an overall sense of well-being.

lupus joint pain

Ways to Take It Easy

Take a Bath: Soaking in hot water can loosen stiff joints. Try adding some Epsom salts and essential oils to create the ultimate relaxing experience.

Get Comfortable: Sit or lie down in a way that’s conducive to watching the kids, answering emails, or catching up on your favorite TV show. Avoiding putting pressure on the inflamed joint will help tremendously with pain management and recovery.

Phone a Friend: A friend can help out in a few ways during joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. He or she can help gently move the joint in all directions to prevent it from fully locking up. A friend can also help pitch in around the house. They can help fix or pick up meals, clean, walk the dog, watch the kids, and help out in whatever way you need them. This is what friends are for—don’t be afraid to ask for help.

lupus joint pain

When You Can’t Take It Easy

For those who may not be able to take the day off, go easy and talk to a medical provider about pain relief medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are an excellent pain relieving treatment option; i.e.: aspirin.

This Too Shall Pass

Lupus arthritis or joint pain from lupus is very much a secondary manifestation of the condition. It’s real, it’s intense, but it will go away. Relying on friends and relaxation techniques can help ease the pain and keep the body comfortable during a flare. Take it easy and know there is a community of people out there for support

Comments (4)

4 thoughts on “Joint Pain & Swelling: Symptoms of Lupus

  1. I feel like these tips were written with good intentions, but very unrealistic. I live with daily joint pain and swelling from Lupus and work full-time. I do have FMLA time off for those days where I just can’t take it, but I don’t use very many. It’s more of a “pain acceptance” situation. Between working, parenting two kids and being a wife, managing my joint pain with a soaking bath or calling a friend to come do stuff for me is almost comical. Unless I’m in the hospital or sleeping at night, I don’t slow down. And I’m already on every kind of drug you can think of to try to relieve the pain. I get what you guys are saying, but who really has time for a soaking bath?

  2. I agree with everything that u are saying. I’m 59, happily single, with 2 grown daughters, and 2 amazing granddaughters. My parent’s are both elderly and ill. I have rented the apartment next to them to help out, but lately can barely get out of bed. I use cbd vapors for my pain, but, my pain is so bad in my hands, fingers, knees, and tops of both my feet. I just want to be alive again!!!!. I can’t even get help with daily chores, for MYSELF, i feel guilty that i can’t hardly help m6 parent’s anymore. Medicare does not cover any IHS help, medical wants me to pay $900 a month share 0
    Of cost ($1,380) is my permanent disability check monthy. I can’t call a friend or stay in bed all day, it’s just me!!!!! I would like one of these doctors or government officials to experience this daily hell, maybe then, someone, will help us keep our houses and pain relief!!!!! At this point, my anger and disappointment, with lack of help for us lupus patients is becoming overwhelming. Thx KELLEY

  3. I’m sick of these doctors. I have Lupus ( SLE ), and serve Fibromyalgia and still can’t get help with my pain. So far I have been doing the best I can and it’s becoming very difficult. I’m taking classes to get my GED 4 days a week , 2 hour a day. I have yet to make it the whole 4 days let alone sit for the whole 2 hours. my teacher is working with me, if I need to leave early or can’t make it she understand. My own family don’t understand and that’s sad. I stay away from my family, I don’t have any friends and these doctors in Charleston SC don’t give a damm. I’m starting to believe it’s because of the color of my skin that I’ve been struggling to get help for my illnesses, that’s sad.

    1. I’m not sure of your ethnicity, but I can assure you that I have been treated horribly throughout the entire process from doctors, nurses, and friends/family as well. I am white, and live in a fairly affluent area. What I have seen is a lot of age discrimination. I don’t know how old you are, but I was diagnosed at 17, and have heard “your too young to feel that bad or have those levels of pain” so often it makes me want to punch the next one to say it! I have been outright ignored, dismissed, talked down to, accused of drug seeking, being overly dramatic, or it’s all in my head. I am now 37 and while I still get that a lot, the exact same problems get completely different responses than when I was much younger. So possibly your age is more of a factor than your race? Either way it sucks and most doctors fail to put much effort into getting an accurate diagnosis, even then don’t want to be bothered when the treatment they give doesn’t help. Not to mention there is ZERO compassion towards these invisible diseases. I’ve often wished that I had something like cancer instead, so people would believe me and do something to help. I know that sounds ugly and horrible but it’s how I feel sometimes. Best of luck to you.

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