July 14, 2024
Home » Acupuncture: A Promising Approach to Reducing Joint Pain in Lupus

Can individuals dealing with joint pain incorporate acupuncture therapy to manage lupus symptoms and restore body mobility?

Introduction

The immune system is highly important to the body as its main job is to protect vital structures from foreign invaders that can cause pain-like issues and discomfort. The immune system has a healthy relationship with the different body systems, including the musculoskeletal system, as the inflammatory cytokines help heal muscle and tissue damage when the body is injured. Over time, however, when normal environmental and genetic factors start to develop in the body, the immune system will begin to send out these cytokines to healthy, normal cells. To that point, the body starts at risk of developing autoimmune diseases. Now, autoimmune diseases in the body can cause havoc over time when they are not managed, leading to chronic disorders that can cause overlapping symptoms in the musculoskeletal system. One of the most common autoimmune diseases is systemic lupus erythematosus or lupus, and it can cause a person to be in consistent pain and discomfort while correlating with muscle and joint pain. Today’s article looks at the factors and effects of lupus, the burden of joint pain in lupus, and how holistic approaches like acupuncture can help manage lupus while restoring body mobility. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess how to minimize the pain effects caused by lupus on the joints. We also inform and guide patients on how acupuncture can help manage lupus and combine other therapies to reduce its pain-like symptoms affecting the musculoskeletal system. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricate and important questions about incorporating acupuncture therapy to relieve the inflammatory effects of lupus while finding natural ways to restore mobility. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.

 

The Factors & Effects Of Lupus

Have you been experiencing joint pain in your upper or lower extremities, making it difficult to function throughout the day? Have you been feeling the constant effects of fatigue? Many individuals experiencing these pain-like issues could risk developing systemic lupus erythematosus. In this autoimmune disease, the body’s own immune system mistakenly starts to attack its tissues, thus leading to inflammation and a range of pain-like symptoms. Lupis is tricky to diagnose because of its complex immune dysregulation that can lead to an overproduction of cytokines that can affect the body. (Lazar & Kahlenberg, 2023) At the same time, lupus can affect a diverse population, with symptoms and severity varying depending on how mild or severe the factors affect the body. Lupus can impact various body parts, including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, and other vital body parts and organs, as environmental and hormonal factors can influence its development. (Tsang & Bultink, 2021) Additionally, lupus can be closely associated with other comorbidities that are causing overlapping risk profiles with inflammation that can affect the joints in the musculoskeletal system.

 

The Burden of Joint Pain In Lupus

 

Lupus is tricky to diagnose since it often mimics other ailments; the most common pain symptom that lupus affects is the joints. Individuals with lupus experience joint pain, which can cause inflammatory effects and structural damage to the joints, tendons, muscles, and bones, causing pathological abnormalities. (Di Matteo et al., 2021) Since lupus causes inflammatory effects in the joints, many individuals will think that they are experiencing inflammatory arthritis, and it can cause overlapping risk profiles as it is accompanied by lupus, thus causing localized pain in the joints regardless of its origin. (Senthelal et al., 2024) Joint pain in lupus individuals can significantly hinder daily activities, reducing mobility and overall quality of life as they are trying to find relief. 

 


Unlocking The Secrets of Inflammation-Video


 

A Holistic Approach to Managing Lupus

While standard treatments for lupus involve medication and immunosuppressants to reduce the inflammation caused by lupus, many people want to seek out holistic approaches to manage lupus and reduce the inflammatory effects from affecting their joints by making small changes in their lives. Many people incorporate anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants to dampen the inflammatory effects. Various supplements, like vitamin D, calcium, zinc, etc., can help reduce inflammation caused by lupus and strengthen bone health. Additionally, non-surgical treatments can even improve cardiorespiratory capacity and decrease fatigue while improving psychological function, which can help improve a person’s quality of life by managing the symptoms caused by lupus. (Fangtham et al., 2019)

 

How Acupuncture Could Help Lupus & Restore Mobility

One of the oldest forms of non-surgical and holistic approaches to reducing inflammation and managing lupus is acupuncture. Acupuncture involves solid, thin needles used by highly trained professionals to be inserted into specific body points to balance the body’s qi (energy) by stimulating the nervous system and releasing beneficial chemicals into the affected muscles, spinal cord, and brain. Additionally, acupuncture, with its minimal side effects and holistic approach, can help manage lupus. This is because when acupuncture needles are placed at the acupoints of the body, it can disrupt the pain signals that are causing pain in the affected area and regulate the inflammatory cytokines from lupus to provide relief. (Wang et al., 2023) This is due to its philosophy of addressing not only the physical pain but also the emotional and psychological symptoms of living with a chronic condition like lupus.

 

 

Additionally, acupuncture can help restore joint mobility while managing lupus through consecutive treatments, as many people notice that their joint mobility is improved and their pain is diminished. This is because the insertion and manipulation of the needles in the body’s acupoints cause alterations in afferent sensory input to the central nervous system, which increases alpha motoneuron excitability and reduces inflammation. (Kim et al., 2020) When individuals are dealing with lupus and are trying to find alternative holistic methods to relieve inflammation and joint pain caused by lupus, acupuncture, and non-surgical treatments can offer a ray of hope in managing the daily challenges of lupus. 

 


References

Di Matteo, A., Smerilli, G., Cipolletta, E., Salaffi, F., De Angelis, R., Di Carlo, M., Filippucci, E., & Grassi, W. (2021). Imaging of Joint and Soft Tissue Involvement in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Curr Rheumatol Rep, 23(9), 73. doi.org/10.1007/s11926-021-01040-8

Fangtham, M., Kasturi, S., Bannuru, R. R., Nash, J. L., & Wang, C. (2019). Non-pharmacologic therapies for systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus, 28(6), 703-712. doi.org/10.1177/0961203319841435

Kim, D., Jang, S., & Park, J. (2020). Electroacupuncture and Manual Acupuncture Increase Joint Flexibility but Reduce Muscle Strength. Healthcare (Basel), 8(4). doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8040414

Lazar, S., & Kahlenberg, J. M. (2023). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: New Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches. Annu Rev Med, 74, 339-352. doi.org/10.1146/annurev-med-043021-032611

Senthelal, S., Li, J., Ardeshirzadeh, S., & Thomas, M. A. (2024). Arthritis. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30085534

Tsang, A. S. M. W. P., & Bultink, I. E. M. (2021). New developments in systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheumatology (Oxford), 60(Suppl 6), vi21-vi28. doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keab498

Wang, H., Wang, B., Huang, J., Yang, Z., Song, Z., Zhu, Q., Xie, Z., Sun, Q., & Zhao, T. (2023). Efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy combined with conventional pharmacotherapy in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore), 102(40), e35418. doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000035418

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The information herein on "Acupuncture: A Promising Approach to Reducing Joint Pain in Lupus" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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