Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the joints. Joint involvement in lupus is common and can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited range of motion. Here’s some information about joint symptoms in lupus:
- Joint Pain and Inflammation: Lupus can cause inflammation in the joints, leading to pain and swelling. The joints most commonly affected are the small joints of the hands, wrists, and knees. However, any joint in the body can be involved, including the ankles, elbows, shoulders, and hips.
- Morning Stiffness: Many people with lupus experience joint stiffness, particularly in the morning. This stiffness can last for several hours and may improve with movement throughout the day.
- Arthritis: Lupus-related joint inflammation is referred to as lupus arthritis. It is characterized by joint swelling, tenderness, warmth, and sometimes redness. The arthritis associated with lupus tends to be non-deforming, meaning it typically does not cause permanent joint damage.
- Symmetrical Joint Involvement: Joint symptoms in lupus usually affect both sides of the body symmetrically. For example, if the right wrist is affected, the left wrist is likely to be affected as well.
- Flares and Remission: Joint symptoms in lupus can vary in intensity and may come and go. Periods of increased joint pain and inflammation are known as flares, while periods of reduced or no symptoms are referred to as remission.
- Other Musculoskeletal Symptoms: Lupus can also cause other musculoskeletal symptoms, such as muscle pain (myalgia), muscle weakness, and inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis). These symptoms can further contribute to joint discomfort and mobility issues.
- Treatment: The management of joint symptoms in lupus typically involves a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to reduce pain and inflammation. In more severe cases, corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be prescribed to suppress the immune system and reduce joint inflammation. Physical therapy and regular exercise can also help improve joint mobility and strength.
It’s important for individuals with lupus and joint symptoms to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan. By addressing joint symptoms, managing inflammation, and maintaining overall disease control, it is possible to reduce joint pain and improve quality of life for those with lupus.
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