For some people, stiffness or pains in the joints turn out to be first symptom of lupus. They experience pain or stiffness in the joints in hands, feet, wrists, such that they cannot even move the joints. Even, some of them will have difficulty in getting up from the chair or even buttoning a shirt will be difficult. Sometimes, the shoulders, ankles and knees also become stiff. These patients can seek the help of a rheumatologist, who is specialized in treating achy and swollen joints.
Why do patients get this sort of pain/stiffness?
When the lupus is active, there will be an increase in the level of pain, swelling and heat all through the body. As a part of swelling, a small lining in some spaces around the joints get thick and grown. This change in size is responsible for creating pain. When there is inflammation, there will also be production of body chemicals that break down bone and damage a kind of very hard connective tissue known as cartilage.
Will the stiffness and pain be similar to that of arthritis?
The relieving answer to this question is no. The reason is that the joints or bones for patients with this condition are not damaged permanently as in the case of arthritis patients. However, the stiffness and pain associated with lupus is difficult to deal with. Some therapies that work for arthritis, will work for this condition as well.
Will there be any effect on the muscles?
Reports state that two or three people with this condition get muscle aches at some point of time. Generally, this type of ache will be experienced between the elbow and the neck or between the knee and the hip. The good thing here is that even though, the ache will be intense, muscles does not weaken. Even, the muscle can show inflammation. But, a separate illness called as fibromyalgia can occur simultaneously in these patients. This condition is something associated with pain and tenderness in muscles.
How to treat stiffness and pain?
There are some anti-inflammatory OTC drugs like naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen that are known to bring down the inflammation and pain. Some patients might get relief with the help of heating therapy on areas of pain or even taking warm showers can bring down the pain and stiffness. Even, some might find relief with cold packs.
What is the best way to handle an inflamed, tender and stiff joint?
Taking rest can help and when resting, it is better to lift the joint to a higher position with help of pillows and blankets. It is better to avoid weight on the affected area. Also, it is recommended to stay away from activities that intense the pain and tenderness. To prevent extreme stiffness, the help of a physical therapist can be obtained. Even, an occupational therapist can help in coping with the pain.
Is it important to keep the joints healthy?
Yes, it is important to take complete rest to protect the joints from getting further damage.