Lupus foot and leg pain can be directly caused by the disease or caused by one of the complications brought about by the disease. Lupus is an autoimmune disease which means that the antibodies of the immune system mistakenly attack bodily tissue. It is also a systemic disease, so any portion of the body can be attacked. Lupus foot and leg pain are both symptoms of the disease. Inflammation of the muscles and joints bring about this pain in most people with lupus. There are, however, other reasons why foot and leg pain occur in lupus.
Many people with lupus develop arthritis, which causes pain, tenderness, stiffness, and warmth in the joints. This is often a cause of lupus foot and leg pain. When a person has arthritis it normally affects the joints on both sides of the body. Another reason for lupus foot and leg pain may be fibromyalgia, which affects about 25% of lupus patients, according to EverydayHealth.com. Fibromyalgia causes both joint and muscle pain. It also causes fatigue and stiffness. Finally, lupus myositis is common for lupus patients to have. This is inflammation which affects the skeletal muscles (the muscles that moves bones). This condition can also cause muscle weakness.
Treating Lupus Foot and Leg Pain
Before any medication is prescribed, your doctor is going to try and discover the exact cause of your lupus foot and leg pain. If the pain is due to inflammation, it is likely that you will take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Many of these can be bought over-the-counter, so your doctor may recommend that you get them on your own. If the inflammation is severe, or you have already tried anti-inflammatory medication on your own, your doctor might prescribe NSAIDs to you so that you can get a larger dose.
Antimalarials may also be prescribed. These relieve joint pain, so they will likely be prescribed to you if the source of your lupus foot and leg pain is some type of arthritis. Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil) and Chloroquine (Aralen) are two examples of antimalarials. Most likely Plaquenil will be prescribed because it is the safer of the two.
Corticosteroids may also be prescribed for the treatment of lupus foot and leg pain. These drugs are highly effective in reducing inflammation as well as relieving joint pain, muscle pain, and fatigue. However, due to the serious side-effects that are related to this type of drug, your doctor is not likely to prescribe them unless it is absolutely necessary.