Lupus shoulder pain is among the common symptoms experienced by lupus patients. However, it is not isolated. Lupus patients experience pain and stiffness in other joints as well. In some cases, the condition is called arthralgia. Some may be tempted to refer to lupus shoulder pain and pain in other joints as a symptom of arthritis. In some cases, they are right.
It is important to note that there is a distinction between arthralgia and arthritis. In arthralgia, patients experience joint pain, but there is no inflammation to speak of. Patients with arthritis experience both joint pain and inflammation. Furthermore, arthritis tends to be characterized by permanent damage to the bones and cartilage. This form of damage rarely occurs with arthralgia.
How to Deal with Lupus Shoulder Pain
Arthralgia is a more common symptom among lupus patients than arthritis. Consequently, when patients experience lupus shoulder pain, their biggest priority for treatment is likely to be pain relief. When the pain occurs with stiffness, physical and occupational therapy and the application of heat can be helpful for patients.
When patients experience arthritis, it is important to treat, not just the pain, but also the inflammation. Thus, patients can also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or anti-malarial drugs.
Lupus shoulder pain makes it difficult to perform tasks that involve the movement of the shoulder joint. So it should not come as a surprise that some avoid using the affected shoulder altogether. This may save them from experiencing too much pain. However, it also comes with a risk. Not using the shoulder joint and the adjacent muscles makes it difficult to keep them healthy. It is important to exercise regularly so that one’s joints, bones, muscles and tendons are in decent shape. But, at the same time, one must avoid overtaxing them.
Light exercise and activity are best. Not only do they help to keep the musculoskeletal system in good shape, but they also help ensure that patients do not put on excess weight. Furthermore, physical well-being helps to stabilize patients’ emotional health.
Lupus patients may experience flares of the disease. When they do, their symptoms tend to be more acute. Thus, they may experience shoulder pain during flare ups, but be relatively fine at other times. If this is the case, then it is important for them to take things easier during their flare ups. They may have an exercise routine that they typically follow when things are relatively fine, but they do not have to be dogmatic about following it when experiencing their flares. Instead, they should get relief from their symptoms and rest.