Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system starts attacking the body as it confuses it for being foreign and harmful to the body. Lupus is like an umbrella term that is used to refer to a number of immune diseases that have similar laboratory characteristics and symptoms. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus, and when people use the term lupus, they generally refer to SLE itself.(1, 2, 3)
What is Lupus Erythematosus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic (long-term) disease that has some phases of aggravated symptoms followed by a period of mild symptoms or complete remission of the symptoms. Most people with SLE manage to live a completely normal life with treatment. It is estimated that around 1.5 million Americans live with diagnosed lupus. However, it is believed that the actual number of people who have lupus is much higher as many cases remain undiagnosed.(4, 5, 6)
Symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus vary from person to person and also change over time. Some of the common symptoms of lupus include:
- Severe tiredness
- Joint pain and swelling
- Hair loss
- Chest pain on breathing sharply
- Rash on the cheeks and nose, known as a butterfly rash
- Problems with blood clotting
- Fingers turning blue or white and tingling sensation when cold, a condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon(7)
Other symptoms of lupus vary depending on the part of the body that the disease attacks, such as the heart, skin, or digestive tract. The symptoms of this autoimmune disease are also symptoms of several other diseases, which is why the process of diagnosing is challenging.(8, 9)
The good news is that there are several gadgets that can help make your life with lupus a bit better, by reducing the pain and giving relief from your symptoms. Read on to find out about these helpful gadgets that can ease the symptoms of lupus erythematosus.
5 Gadgets That Can Ease Symptoms of Lupus Erythematosus
People with lupus tend to experience a lot of muscle pain and muscle stiffness. This is why massage therapy comes in very helpful. Massage therapy helps reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and also increase your energy levels and awareness. In lupus, one of the common symptoms is feeling extremely fatigued or tired, and massage can be a great way to feel better and get some relief from your symptoms. Some of the benefits of massage for lupus include:(10, 11, 12)
- Massage increases the production of pain relieving endorphins in the body.
- It reduces soreness and inflammation.
- Massage helps increase muscle mobility and flexibility.
- Massage relieves stress levels and makes you more comfortable in your body.
There are many massage tools available these days that allow you to massage yourself at home. You can even purchase fully equipped massage chairs that help massage the entire body, including your legs. Or you can purchase specialized trigger point massage tools that help you release the knots and massage the hard-to-reach places. The pressure on these devices can also be adjusted to your comfort level.(13, 14)
However, it is always better to consult your doctor once before beginning any kind of massage therapy, even if it involves using tools. Most doctors often recommend using massage chair therapy, which can make you feel better and alleviate your symptoms, but these chairs are often quite expensive.
Many physical therapists often use foam rollers as part of their physical therapy routine for patients with muscular and joint diseases, including lupus. Using a foam roller can be very helpful in relieving muscle pain and tension. Being handy, a foam roller can be used on many different parts of the body as needed. Some of the benefits of using a foam roller for lupus are as follows:(15)
- Foam rollers help relieve muscle tightness.
- They can improve inflammation.
- They can help reduce pain and soreness.
- They help increase your joint range of motion.
In fact, foam rollers are a great tool to ease muscle pain. A 2015 study carried out by the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada found proof that using foam rollers after exercising can help reduce the onset of muscle soreness. The participants of the study witnessed a significant reduction in delayed-onset muscle soreness after they started foam rollers as compared to those participants who exercised without using foam rollers after exercising.(16)
However, the results of foam rolling can be different for different people, so you can start by focusing on specific problem areas first to test out if a foam roller works for you.
Hemp Muscle Rub
People with lupus tend to suffer from a lot of headaches and even migraines. A hemp muscle rub can be a great lifesaver when you are down with these agonizing headaches. These muscle rubs can reduce the pain significantly. Research has shown that hemp has anti-inflammatory properties as well, which can help reduce migraine headaches as well.(17)
If you don’t want to resort to using the muscle rub, you can even try applying a simple ice pack to your head. And not only the head, but applying the ice pack to any part of the body that is hurting can provide relief from the pain and also bring down any inflammation.
This might seem like a simple thing to have, but many people often overlook just how handy a pill organizer box can be. If you have lupus, you are going to have a lot of medicines that you need to take. Using a pill box can make your life a lot easier. Buy a weekly pill organizer and fill it up every Sunday or Monday so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting your medicines for the rest of the week. Consider having a smaller pill organizer for taking along while traveling so that you don’t have to carry too many strips of medications with you.
Use a Note-taking App
If you have lupus, you will be having regular visits with your rheumatologist and any other doctors that you are seeing. Before the appointment, you will find yourself coming up with many questions and doubts that you immediately forget the minute you sit in front of the doctor. To keep track of all your questions, symptoms, any change in your symptoms, or any new issues that come up in the time period leading up to your appointment, the easiest gadget to use is a note-taking app.
Nowadays, there are many note-taking apps that are available for free. You simply need to download them either on your computer or smartphone and keep making notes so that you have everything you need in front of you when you go for the appointment. Using such an app helps ensure that you won’t forget anything important when you are in front of your doctor.
Everyone experiences lupus in a different way and the symptoms of the disease also varies from person to person. Since no two people are the same, these gadgets may or may not work for everyone. However, there is no denying that using some of these gadgets can help you immensely in getting some relief from the symptoms of lupus erythematosus. Remember to always ask your doctor once before you start using any new tool.
- Borchers, A.T., Naguwa, S.M., Shoenfeld, Y. and Gershwin, M.E., 2010. The geoepidemiology of systemic lupus erythematosus. Autoimmunity reviews, 9(5), pp.A277-A287.
- Lahita, R.G. ed., 2010. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Academic Press.
- Mok, C.C. and Lau, C.S., 2003. Pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. Journal of clinical pathology, 56(7), pp.481-490.
- What is lupus? (no date) Lupus Foundation of America. Available at: https://www.lupus.org/resources/what-is-lupus (Accessed: October 13, 2022).
- KELLUM, R.E. and HASERICK, J.R., 1964. Systemic lupus erythematosus: a statistical evaluation of mortality based on a consecutive series of 299 patients. Archives of Internal Medicine, 113(2), pp.200-207.
- Allen, E., Farewell, V.T., Isenberg, D.A. and Gordon, C., 2006. A statistical analysis of the interrelationships between disease activity in different systems in systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheumatology, 45(3), pp.308-313.
- Heimovski, F.E., Simioni, J.A. and Skare, T.L., 2015. Systemic lupus erythematosus and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, 90, pp.837-840.
- Thong, B. and Olsen, N.J., 2017. Systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosis and management. Rheumatology, 56(suppl_1), pp.i3-i13.
- Piga, M. and Arnaud, L., 2021. The main challenges in systemic lupus erythematosus: where do we stand?. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10(2), p.243.
- Gasibat, Q. and Suwehli, W., 2017. Determining the benefits of massage mechanisms: a review of literature. Rehabilitation Sciences, 3(2), pp.58-67.
- Vickers, A. and Zollman, C., 1999. Massage therapies. BMJ, 319(7219), pp.1254-1257.
- Watson, S., 1997. The effects of massage: an holistic approach to care. Nursing standard (Royal College of Nursing (Great Britain): 1987), 11(47), pp.45-47.
- Mooventhan, A. and Nivethitha, L., 2014. Effects of acupuncture and massage on pain, quality of sleep and health related quality of life in patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(3), p.186.
- Garza, V., 2020. Unconventional pain management for people with systemic lupus erythematosus: A systematic literature review. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 51(1), pp.3-15.
- Škarabot, J., Beardsley, C. and Štirn, I., 2015. Comparing the effects of self‐myofascial release with static stretching on ankle range‐of‐motion in adolescent athletes. International journal of sports physical therapy, 10(2), p.203.
- Pearcey, G.E., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J.E., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G. and Button, D.C., 2015. Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of athletic training, 50(1), pp.5-13.
- Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I. and Skrzydlewska, E., 2019. Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Antioxidants, 9(1), p.21.