Stiff muscles and joint pain


How lupus affects the muscles, tendons and joints

It is not uncommon for people with lupus to experience muscle aches and pain (myalgias) or have inflammation of certain muscle groups (myositis), which causes weakness and loss of strength. More than 90 percent of people with lupus will experience joint and/or muscle pain at some time during the course of their illness. More than half of the people who develop lupus mention joint pain as their first symptom.

Muscle pain and muscle tenderness, especially during periods of increased disease activity (flare), occur in as many as 50 percent of those with lupus. The symptoms may have different causes. It is important for your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms since treatments are quite varied. Rheumatologists are the physicians who specialize in the joints, muscles and bones.

Muscle aches and pain may be from symptoms that happen when your body is responding to some type of inflammation, from muscle atrophy (weakness) or from a true myositis.


Inflammation is the most common reason for muscle pain and aches. Any time that major inflammation exists (“strep” throat, hepatitis, cancer, lupus, acute heart attack, etc.), signs and symptoms often include fevers, sweats, chills, fatigue, weight loss, and various muscle aches, pains and weakness. These non-specific, non-diagnostic symptoms are signs of your body’s inability to cope with whatever process has overwhelmed it. Because lupus is an inflammatory disease it may cause any of these problems. These myalgias are a secondary part of the overall disease.

Lupus arthritis

Lupus arthritis causes pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in your joints. The joints most often affected are the ones farthest from the middle of the body, such as fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and toes. General stiffness upon awakening, which gradually improves as the day goes on, is a key feature of lupus arthritis. However, there also may be joint pain later in the day. Several joints are usually involved, and the inflammation will affect similar joints on both sides of your body.

Compared to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus arthritis is less disabling and less likely to cause destruction of the joints. Fewer than 10 percent of people with lupus arthritis will develop deformities of their hands and feet associated with weakening of cartilage and bone.

Muscle atrophy (wasting away of muscle strength) may occur if arthritis becomes chronic.

Lupus myositis

Some people with lupus develop myositis, an inflammation of the skeletal muscles that causes weakness and loss of strength. Lupus myositis often affects the muscles of your neck, pelvis, thighs, shoulders and upper arms; difficulty in climbing stairs and getting up from a chair are early symptoms. Later symptoms may include difficulty lifting objects onto a shelf, lifting your arm to comb or brush your hair, getting out of the bath, and even raising your head or turning over in bed.

An exercise program supervised by a physical therapist is helpful in regaining normal muscle strength and function.

Drug-induced muscle weakness

Muscle weakness also may be a side effect of certain drugs used to treat lupus and related conditions, including prednisone and other corticosteroids, cholesterol-lowering drugs and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®). Therefore, drug-induced muscle disease should be ruled out as a cause of weakness if you are taking any of these medications, as drug-induced muscle weakness usually does not produce elevated levels of muscle enzymes as is seen in lupus myositis.

Adjusting or stopping the drugs that are causing the muscle weakness usually brings about an improvement of muscle strength.

Tendonitis and bursitis

A tendon is a strong rope-like structure made of tough fibers that attaches muscle to bone. A bursa is a small sac containing a slippery fluid that is usually found near a joint and allows muscles, bones, and tendons to move easily. Tendonitis (irritation of a tendon) and bursitis (irritation of a bursa) are usually due to damage or overuse of a joint. Pain is the major symptom of both conditions. Different areas of your body may be affected; common areas include the elbow (tennis elbow), the finger (trigger finger) and the shoulder. In addition, tendons and bursas are both lined with synovial membrane, which is a target for inflammation in lupus arthritis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Pressure on the central nerve in the wrist causes a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. It is characterized by tingling, numbness, and pain in the fingers, which sometimes affects the entire hand. A number of medical conditions, including lupus, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. When carpal tunnel occurs with lupus, it is usually because inflammation in your wrist is putting pressure on the nerves.

Unilateral Joint Pain Overview

The joint pain is one of the most common problems in the world today. There are around 54.4 million American adults that are diagnosed with arthritis today, and this figure is expected to grow to 78 million by 2040, according to the statistics. You may have already experienced some sort of joint pain previously, or you may be suffering from the joint pain now, but, have you experienced aching joints in the whole part of your left or only right side?

If you have experienced it in the past, or you’re experiencing this type of pain now, then there is a high chance that it is the unilateral joint pain. This type of joint pain is really annoying, and it can significantly hamper your quality of life. The unilateral joint pain is the type of joint pain that leads to soreness and tenderness on only one part of the body. The pain on the right knee, ankle, or wrist is some of the examples of the unilateral joint pain.

What are the Causes of Unilateral Joint Pain?

There are many causes of joint pain. Some of the major causes of joint pain are an injury; tear due to aging, or due to some other health problems. The medical conditions that can lead to the unilateral joint pain are gout, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. You can find the cause of your unilateral joint pain after consulting a health provider. This will help in dealing with your unilateral joint pain effectively, and you will be suggested with the proper treatment methods.

Among the medical conditions that can lead to unilateral joint pain, the most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Let’s discuss them in more detail.

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1. Rheumatoid Arthritis: It is a chronic inflammatory disorder, which can affect not only joints, but also your skin, lungs, blood vessels, and more. There are around 1.3 million American adults diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the CDC Arthritis Statistics. If you’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and you’re currently suffering from the joint pain on only one side of your body, then it is most likely to be a unilateral joint pain.

This autoimmune disorder can create a painful sensation and joint stiffness.

2. Osteoarthritis: The second most common medical condition that can lead to unilateral joint pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease, which can affect any joint. However, it mostly affects your knees, neck, small joints of your fingers, and lower back. According to the statistic, around 27 million Americans are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which makes it the most common form of joint disease.

This joint disease can slowly wear down your cartilages in your joint, which can eventually lead to pain and stiffness.

These are the causes of unilateral joint pain. Remember, there are cases where unilateral joint pain can be caused by more than one cause.

Unilateral Joint Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis

It’s not a difficult task to find out whether you are suffering from unilateral joint pain or not. In most of the cases, you will only experience joint pain on the single side of your body. In some other cases, the joint pain can be accompanied by stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion.

For the diagnosis of the unilateral joint pain, the doctors first look out for the symptoms in addition to other physical examinations that are focused on the affected areas. The doctors commonly use x-ray or MRI to get an idea of the damage on the affected area. For the joint pains that are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, a blood test can be conducted for diagnosis.

What are The Treatments Methods?

Do not try to treat yourself without consulting a doctor. It is because there are varieties of treatments available for your joint pain, and it’s crucial to choose the right treatment method for you depending on the cause of the pain. Just choosing the treatment method randomly without consulting is one of the dumbest things you can do.
Most of the people sadly make this mistake and choose one of the treatment methods randomly. By doing this silly mistake, you will be wasting your time and money, and you won’t get rid of your pain as well.

Among many treatment methods available to treat your joint pain, physical therapy is the most common one that is recommended for most of the patients. Being active in physical therapy and doing mild exercises on a regular basis can help in enhancing the range of motion of your body, and your joint supporting muscles will also be strengthened.

The study conducted by American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to check out the impact of physical therapy on osteoarthritis patients showed that regular physical therapy was able to significantly improve their mobility, reduce their pain, and improve overall condition.

Another popular treatment method is corticosteroid treatment. This treatment method can help you get rid of inflammation and pain from the affected joint.

Some of you may be suffering from this joint pain due to an accident. In serious cases, you may need surgery; however, only a mild rest can help you to get rid of your pain. For those of you who are suffering from unbearable pain, your doctor may prescribe you with anti-inflammatory or over-the-counter medications.

Like I said before, the treatment method depends on your condition. There are many treatment methods for you, so do not worry.


Any kind of health conditions, whether it is small or big needs to be taken seriously. Most of the people take joint pain casually, and they ignore it, but the fact is that it is more serious than what most of you think about it. According to the findings from the study, most of the people retire early from their work due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Do whatever it is required for overcoming your unilateral joint pain if you’re suffering from it, and you should also aware others about this problem if you see someone suffering from the same case. And, do not forget to consult the doctor to get valuable advice from them that can help you to overcome your pain. Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;58:26–35.
Miller ME, Rejeski WJ, Messier SP, et al. Modifiers of change in physical functioning in older adults with knee pain: the Observational Arthritis Study in Seniors (OASIS) Arthritis Rheum. 2001;45:331–9.
Marmon AR, Zeni JA, Jr, Snyder-Mackler L. Perception and presentation of function in patients with unilateral versus bilateral knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care Res. 2012;65:406–13.
H. Sugiura and S. Demura, “Effects of mild and severe knee joint pain on various activities of daily living in the female elderly,” Pain Research and Treatment, vol. 2013, Article ID 989508, 10 pages, 2013. View at Publisher

Contributor : Melissa Feldman (Joint Health Magazine)

Melissa Feldman writes about a range of lifestyle topics, including health, fitness, nutrition, and the intersection of them all. She has undergraduate degrees in both teaching and psychology. She spent almost 20 years writing and designing English as a Second Language educational materials, including several textbooks. She has presented the cumulative research of many health topics ranging from dietary supplements to joint pain relief products and topical pain reliever. She is skilled at writing compelling articles and producing academic, marketing and creative content. Melissa currently lives in Toronto, Canada and works as an independent research writer. She has more than a decade of experience reviewing and editing publications intended for both public and professional audiences. You can connect with her on Linkedin. View all posts by Melissa Feldman

Fibromyalgia Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

While fibromyalgia symptoms can be debilitating, they are not life threatening. Symptoms of fibromyalgia vary, depending on the person’s stress level, physical activity, and other factors (e.g., time of day, weather conditions). Pain is the primary symptom and is found in virtually 100 percent of cases.

Fibromyalgia pain and tenderness occurs in certain areas of the body when pressure is applied. These areas, which are called tender points, include the following:

  • Back of the head
  • Elbows
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Neck
  • Upper back
  • Upper chest

Fibromyalgia pain can be aching, burning, throbbing, and can move around the body (migratory pain). Many patients also experience muscle tightness, soreness, and spasms. People with fibromyalgia may be unable to carry out normal daily activities, even though muscle strength is not affected. The pain is often worse in the morning, improves throughout the day, and worsens at night.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and symptoms may be constant or intermittent for years or even a lifetime.

Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include the following:

  • Sleep disorders (e.g., restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea)
  • Gastrointestinal (e.g., abdominal pain, bloating, gas, cramps, alternating diarrhea and constipation)
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Chronic headaches (may include facial and jaw pain)
  • Heightened sensitivity to odors, loud noises, bright lights, various foods, medicines, and changes in weather
  • Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea) and painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Frequent urination, strong urge to urinate, and painful urination (dysuria)
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate, and shortness of breath
  • Sensation of swelling (edema) in the hands and feet, even though swelling is not present

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015

Autoimmune Disorders and Pain

Muscle and joint pain in autoimmune disorders is basically due to a “misdirected immune response” in which your immune system attacks your own cells and tissues, such as those in your joints and connective tissues. Both the inflammation caused by the immune response and the destruction of tissue lead to pain. Pain may also be due to your body trying to compensate for weakness or problems with mobility.

Types of Autoimmune-Disorder Joint and Muscle Pain

There are so many different types of pain with autoimmune disorders that you may begin to wish there were more ways to describe your muscle and joint pain. Generally used descriptive terms include:

  • Chronic pain — ongoing pain (more than three months) that may get worse at times, but is always there. Chronic pain can be dull or throbbing, light or deep in your muscle or joints
  • Acute pain — pain that comes on suddenly
  • Stiffness — not so much pain as a feeling of overuse or disuse of muscles and joints
  • Symmetric or asymmetric pain — in some autoimmune disorders, pain occurs in the same joint on both sides of the body (symmetric) and in some it’s only on one side (asymmetric)

Here are some of the more typical experiences of muscle and joint pain among people with autoimmune disorders:

  • Morning stiffness — autoimmune disorder pain and stiffness often gets better as you move through the day even when you woke up stiff and sore.
  • Muscle aches — you may experience aching in muscles all over your body.
  • Joint pain — specific joints can become inflamed and sore; depending on the disorder, pain can occur anywhere from your fingers to your lower back to your feet.
  • Limited range of motion — when a joint is affected, you may experience sharper pain when you try to use that joint to its fullest extent.
  • Migratory pain — in some conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, pain moves around to different joints.

Home Management of Pain

Here are some steps that you can take at home to manage your joint pain:

  • Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These non-prescription medications can help ease joint pain. NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. You might also take acetaminophen, which is not an NSAID, but can relieve pain.
  • Get exercise. Even though joint pain and stiffness can slow you down, staying in motion will help prevent additional joint pain. Dr. Shaffer recommends stretching and flexibility exercises in addition to staying as active as you’re able.
  • Take prescription medications as your doctor orders. There are many medications that your doctor can prescribe to help you manage joint pain. But it’s important to work with your doctor to find the right medication combination for you. “Even within the same autoimmune disorder, different patients will respond in different ways. A medication that helps one patient may not work at all for you, so you have to keep trying,” says Shaffer. Taking the medications your doctor has prescribed will help you manage your disorder as a whole, which will reduce joint pain and stiffness. Some of the prescription medications you may receive include:
    • Corticosteroids. These can be taken orally, or your doctor may give you corticosteroid shots directly into your joints to relieve pain and stiffness.
    • Prescription pain relievers. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications for you to take during flare-ups.
    • Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Anti-malarial drugs, developed for the treatment of malaria, an infectious disorder spread by mosquitoes, can be used to help manage joint pain and other symptoms of autoimmune disorders. Other DMARDs include Rheumatrex (methotrexate), Ridaura (oral gold salts) or Solganal (gold by injection), Azulfidine (sulfasalzine), and others.
    • Biologic therapies. These newer therapies inhibit the body’s immune system and include Enbrel (etanercept) and Remicade (infliximab).
  • Manage your moods. Managing pain can be tiring and depressing. Interestingly, a recent study of 94 patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed that those who maintained generally positive emotions experienced about 28 percent less pain.
  • Try alternative therapies. “As long as it’s not dangerous and harmful, I say go for it. Some people have really felt a benefit from alternative treatments,” says Shaffer. Remember to keep your doctors informed about which alternative treatments you want to try — and let the alternative treatment practitioners know about the medications you’re taking. Joint pain and stiffness can be eased with alternative therapies such as:
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage
    • Hot and cold treatments

When to Call the Doctor for Joint and Muscle Pain

If you’ve tried all of the options that usually work, and you’re still experiencing joint pain that interferes with sleep, mobility, or quality of life, it’s time to talk to your doctor again. Don’t wait to make the call — you don’t have to live with disabling pain.

Pain in different parts of my body

For a few months now, I have been experiencing pain in different parts of my body: my arms and legs, my back, my buttock and my head. The problem is that the aches “move around”. Some days, my buttock is so painful I can’t sit down. The following day, I am fine.
A week ago, I was limping badly because of a pain in my left leg, from the calf to the top of my thigh. 5 days ago, I could not use the mouse with my right arm. The pain started on the left side of my neck that morning and during the day, the following day the pain travelled across my neck to the right side and down, along my arm up to my fingers.
I had difficulties to work on the second day because my right arm was aching a lot. Today, my left leg is aching. The pains come and go. I can have days without aches and then suddendly one day I have difficulties to walk or work because of pains in my limbs, head or back.
Only one thing doesn’t change, the pain in my wrists. It started there, and has never left me for the past 7 months. My GP ask me to do some blood tests, but everything is fine. Because of the pain in my wrists, he prescribed X-ray too. I am 38 and in general good health. I am not overweight, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink a lot. I work in a office in a job I enjoy.
Do you have any idea of what is the problem with me, what should I do, where could I go to receive some help?

23 April 2014

4 Body Pains You Should Never Ignore (0:30)

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Perhaps you experienced a sharp shooting sensation that you can’t explain, or a dull ache that never quite goes away. These types of pains can be clues to your overall well-being. Even if you’ve had blood work or other forms of testing done that indicated you’re in the clear, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong. To help you prevent potentially life-threatening situations, Dr. Oz reveals the four body pains you should never ignore.

From This Episode:

How Healthy Are You? The 60-Second Test You Can Take at Home

Jaw Pain: Can Signal a Heart Attack

A dull, vague pain on the lower left side of your jaw should never be ignored. This pain increases and decreases over the course of a few minutes. In addition, it moves around so you can’t quite pinpoint exactly where it bothers you. Known as “referred pain,” this sensation occurs when the nerves surrounding the heart become agitated, sending pain through the nerves in the spine to other locations in the body, specifically the left jaw, shoulder, and arm.

LEARN MORE: How to Know If You Might Be Having a Heart Attack

Dr. Oz’s When to Worry Scale can help you understand the difference between benign jaw pain such as TMJ, a sinus infection, or a toothache, and serious jaw pain associated with a heart attack.

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

If moving your jaw around (such as while chewing) increases the pain, it’s likely the discomfort has nothing to do with your heart.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

Jaw pain that happens in the morning can be an instance of referred pain and serves as a warning sign that you’re at risk for a heart attack. Your blood is thicker at this time of the day, which causes blood pressure to surge, increasing heart attack risk.

Red Zone: The Highest Risk

Pain brought on by physical activity can manifest in several areas including the chest, jaw, left arm and shoulder, a scenario that typically indicates you’re having a heart attack. Shortness of breath, a common heart attack symptom in women, may also occur. You may also get additional classic heart attack signs such as dizziness or nausea. In this case, see a doctor immediately.

Leg Pain: Can Signal Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This type of pain starts deep inside the calf and feels like an ache or a cramp similar to a charley horse. The leg area may become swollen and red with the sudden appearance of varicose veins.

Leg pain like this can be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when a blood clot forms inside a vein. This situation can become life-threatening when a clot gets loose and travels through the bloodstream, causing an embolism that can get stuck in the brain, heart, lungs, or other area.

LEARN MORE: Blood Clots Fact Sheet

When to Worry Scale

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

You’ve been active or moving and have calf discomfort accompanied by swollen ankles. This combination is usually not a cause for concern and is most likely caused by a pulled muscle.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

You’ve been sedentary, perhaps traveling and sitting in a confined position. In these situations, make sure you maintain healthy leg circulation by getting up every once in a while and moving around or simply moving your legs while seated.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

If your leg gets red and warm, call your doctor who may order an ultrasound, a simple noninvasive test that will determine what’s going on.

Abdominal Pain: Can Signal Gallstones

Abdominal or stomach pain can be a sign of gallstones, a condition that affects one in four women in the United States. The most common symptom of gallstone pain occurs in the upper right side of the belly above the rib cage. This pain can be sharp and can spread to the back or below the shoulder blade. It usually does not go away when you’re moving around.

WATCH: Gallbladder Health

Gallstones do not often cause symptoms unless they’re blocking a cystic duct or a common bile duct. Serious complications such as a ruptured gallbladder or pancreatitis can occur.

When to Worry Scale

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

If abdominal pain is relieved with antacids or after you urinate or have a bowel movement, it is most likely just stomach upset.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

If moving around or changing your position doesn’t help relieve the pain, it could indicate a blockage.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

Abdominal pain that occurs within 20-30 minutes every time you eat fatty food could signal gallstones. Keep a log and seek help from a doctor if your pain is severe.

Pins and Needles: Can Signal Nerve Injury

Pins and needles, or tingling pain, is a common symptom of impaired circulation, such as when your foot “falls asleep.” It can also indicate that you’ve compressed or damaged a nerve (such as hitting your funny bone). In addition to a tingling or electrical feeling, it may feel like burning or numbness.

When to Worry Scale

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

The tingling goes away within a few minutes after you move your body, which increases blood flow to the area.

LEARN MORE: Common Causes of Numbness

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

Pain persists for several days. With this type of trauma, nerves around blood vessels, bones and muscles may be traumatized and take a little longer to recover.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

If you have tingling accompanied by muscle weakness, it could indicate a serious neurological condition and should be checked out by your doctor.

More from Prevention: 7 Weird New Headache Causes

7. Leg pain with swelling
Your calf is extremely tender in one location, noticeably swollen, and red or warm to the touch. You might have deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), commonly known as a blood clot. Resist the urge to massage the area or to try walking off the pain. If the clot breaks free, it can travel through your veins up to your lungs and cut off your oxygen supply. Instead, see your doctor right away. He or she will do a CT scan or ultrasound to check for a DVT. If that’s what you have, you’ll need to take blood thinners—sometimes for up to a year—to dissolve it, says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease for the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. (Could walking be causing your leg pain? Get tips on how to recover.)

Know the symptoms of a stroke
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious disability, according to the American Heart Association. If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1.

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

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