Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs of the body, and literally attacks the organs and tissues of the body. Lupus will typically target joints, skin, blood cells, kidneys, heart, and the lungs. Since the disease attacks some of the vital organs of the body it can be a life-threatening disease. Lupus typically affects women between the ages of 15-40. Lupus seems to affect African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians at a higher incidence. Other risk factors include certain drugs taken over an extended amount of time (ask your medical doctor about your medications if you have any concerns), history of Epstein-Barr virus episodes, smoking cigarettes, and certain chemicals seem to an affect (mercury and silica). Symptoms can be minimal and limited to flares or severe and constant. Usual symptoms include: fatigue, fever, unexplained weight loss or gain, hair loss, skin lesions, face rash, joint problems (stiffness, pain, inflamed, decreased range of motion), behavioral changes, forgetfulness, white and blue fingers or toes, mouth sores, dry eyes, and on and on. Lupus can be pretty self limiting and have a major affect on quality of life.
When a diagnoses is made by your health care professional treatment is based off the severity of the symptoms. Traditional drug therapies include NSAID’s, anti-malarial drugs (helps with symptoms, but no link to malaria), corticosteroids (which over an extended amount of time can cause secondary problems), and if symptoms become severe enough immunosuppresants can be used. There currently are clinical trials ongoing that are looking for more efficient ways and lower levels of side effects to help treat lupus. As the cause of lupus isn’t fully understood current treatments are aimed at decreasing symptoms.
As most medications have some sort of side effects (mild or severe) many people aren’t able to take certain prescription treatments or just refuse to due so because of the side effects. This is where chiropractic fits in the equation very well. Chiropractic is a conservative and natural therapy that has been shown to be very safe. Chiropractic can be utilized as an additional therapy to help moderate some symptoms associated with lupus. Chiropractors focus on manipulation on the joints of the body (typically the spine, but research has shown manipulation of joints to be very effective with most joint problems) to restore joint and neurological function. When joint function is restored; movement is easier, joint pain and inflammation decrease, surrounding muscles and tissues relax and are less tender, and certain neurological mechanisms work more efficient. Case studies have shown chiropractic to be beneficial in regulating pain, fatigue, and stiffness-adding to higher quality of life. Early research shows chiropractic manipulations potential effects on regulating key hormones and having a positive effect on regulating inflammation in relation to the nervous system, which is promising in relation to arthritic and inflammatory conditions. As this research is still minimal, the role of chiropractic isn’t completely understood in relation to lupus and other inflammatory conditions, but chiropractic is a good and highly useful therapy to help with lupus symptoms.
Other factors that have a positive role in managing lupus include daily exercise (30 minutes daily- split up if needed) avoidance of sunlight and other sources of UV rays (certain lighting), adequate rest, proper diet (lower fat intake and healthier fats), fish oils, and vitamins C,D, and E. Current research is showing positive outcomes with a hormone called DHEA, it seems to lower overall symptoms with lupus sufferers. DHEA can be found as a supplement, but should be regulated by a knowledgable healthcare professional due to potential drug interactions.
The best approach to treating lupus and its symptoms is a mix of traditional and complementary (integrative medicine) treatments. This approach can help find the best management with the fewest side effects allowing for the highest quality of life possible for those afflicted not just with lupus, but with many arthritic or inflammatory conditions.
Circle City Chiropractic
Indianapolis, IN 46250