There are a lot of problems which can come about involving lupus and knees. According to, more than 90 percent of people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) will experience joint or muscle pain at some time during the course of their illness. In fact this is one of the major complaints SLE patients have when they first discover that they have the disease. For the most part pain in lupus knees is caused by inflammation, which is one of the most common symptoms of the disease. However this pain can also be due to other medical disorders that co-exist with or are a complication of SLE. The pain in lupus knees may also be caused by:

Fibromyalgia – This is a chronic disorder which is often found to co-exist with many medical conditions such as lupus. The cause is unknown. It is characterized by fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and cognitive abnormalities. It can be easily overlooked in lupus because of the similarities of the symptoms and could be mistaken for a lupus flare. The pain caused by fibromyalgia is usually widespread and not limited to the knees.

Avascular necrosis of the bone – This condition is caused by diminished blood flow to the bone and increased pressure in a portion of the bone. The bone is weakened, which causes tiny breaks and eventually collapse of the bone. The hips, shoulders, and knees are the most commonly affected areas.

Bursitis and tendonitis – Tendonitis and bursitis are conditions that are common in lupus. The tendons and bursas (sacs of fluid which allow muscle, bones, and tendons to move easily) become inflamed due to the disease. Different areas of the body may be affected, including the knees.

Arthritis – Lupus arthritis is a very common reason for the pain in lupus knees. Lupus arthritis is usually symmetrical, affecting the joints on both sides of the body. The pain usually improves as the day goes on and returns later in the day. Lupus arthritis is experienced by about 1/3 of lupus patients. Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis may cause problems with lupus knees as well.

Infection – A knee infection could affect any part of the knee and bring about pain and swelling. People with lupus are very vulnerable to infection because of both the disease and its treatment weakening the immune system.


Treatment for Lupus Knees


In the treatment of lupus knee pain, anti-inflammatory drugs are typically used. These can include over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. Resting and propping up the knees with pillows and blankets can be helpful as well as warm showers and baths which lessen stiffness in the joints. One should also avoid putting excess weight on the joints or participating in activities which can increase pain. Exercise to keep the muscles strong is important and should be performed when knee pain is manageable. Weight-bearing exercises, of course, are not recommended, but simply staying active by walking or practicing yoga can be very helpful. Finally, tell your doctor about the pain in your knees and he will likely provide you with more options for the treatment of lupus knees.