Lupus arthritis is common among 35 out of 100 people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In fact, joint and muscle pain is almost always experienced by many patients diagnosed with SLE.
This type of SLE is characterized by pain and inflammation of the joints with feeling of tenderness and warmth on the affected areas. Patients with lupus arthritis experience morning stiffness all over the body. Pressure and swelling can be aggravated by fluid collected in the joints. Although it will not result to permanent deformities to the joints or any joint damage, it can be very painful and uncomfortable.
The part that is mostly affected by this disease are the fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, feet and toes. It does not affect the center joints like the neck and spine. Lupus arthritis can affect the symmetrical regions of the body, thus the same joints on both sides are affected.
There are several other conditions that can cause joint pain and inflammation in SLE patients. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, bone necrosis, bursitis and tendinitis have similar symptoms as this particular SLE type. Knowing what the cause of pain is will enable your doctor to correctly treat your disorder.
Lupus arthritis is not quite easy to diagnose. Many of the laboratory tests for lupus arthritis will also yield the same positive result in any lupus patient. X-rays and joint fluid tests will only give a small degree of inflammation.
A thorough physical examination, blood tests to rule out other disorders and a medical history of symptoms will give your doctor a better idea of your lupus disease.
A combination of non- steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like ibuprofen, anti-malarials (or Plaquenil) and corticosteroids (such as prednisone) is prescribed for lupus arthritis.
Physical therapy and low-impact exercises, like walking and swimming, are also very important to keep the muscles moving.