Arthritis is a broad term that describes inflammation of the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but if you have lupus, you are more likely to suffer from a type of arthritis similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is symmetric, which means it affects the same locations on either side of the body, and it also usually affects the small joints of your hands, wrists, and feet. But, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, lupus-caused arthritis does not wear away at your bones. Your tendons or ligaments may soften and cause your fingers to curve or turn to one side, but you can treat this condition, called Jaccoud's arthropathy, by manually straightening your fingers.
About 95 percent of people with lupus experience arthritis or arthralgia, or joint pain.
Polyarthralgia, which is joint pain that affects five or more joints, and polyarthritis, which is joint inflammation that affects five or more joints, are the most common joint problems associated with lupus.
In fact, more than half of people with lupus already suffer from these problems patients when they are first diagnosed.
Lupus arthritis can affect your large joints, such as the knees, shoulders, and elbows, and your small joints, such as the toe and finger joints.
A variety of medications can help ease lupus-arthritis, including:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen and ibuprofen
- Anti-malarial drugs, like Plaquenil
- Steroids and immunosuppressive medications, like methotrexate
Your doctor will decide which treatment plan is best for you.
If you have pain in your groin, and you also take steroid medications, you should let your doctor know immediately, since this pain can indicate a more serious problem called osteonecrosis. Sometimes fluid may accumulate in a joint and may require your doctor to drain it.
Another common joint problem you may have if you suffer from lupus is morning stiffness. Taking a warm shower in the morning helps loosen your synovial, or joint, fluid, and helps your body limber up for the day.