Lupus: Learning To Manage Pain and Suffering
The Mayo Clinic defines lupus as “a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.” Our body’s white blood cells are our body’s first line of defense against infectious diseases. Lupus however, causes white blood cells to attack healthy tissue throughout the body. Some of the most common body systems affected include the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, lungs, heart, and brain.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms often mirror those of other conditions and illnesses. Because lupus attacks different tissues throughout the body, symptoms can change as different areas of the body are affected. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Distinctive butterfly-shaped rash that spreads throughout the cheeks and over the bridge of the nose
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with exposure to sunlight
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon, whitening of the extremities caused by cold temperatures or stress
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
Impact of living with Lupus
Lupus is one of many invisible illnesses with no known cure. Symptoms can be kept in check with medications, but are ever changing making it difficult to manage. Stress, anxiety, and depression can also influence symptoms making emotional regulation an important component of lupus treatment. Living with lupus not only impacts someone with physical pain, it also contributes to psychological, social, and spiritual suffering.
As mentioned above, there is no cure for lupus. Like many other chronic illnesses, the biomedical model is limited to maintenance approach of symptom management with shots, pills, and injections. Many people also see different providers and/or specialists who rarely (if ever) consult with one another on treatment plans which can lead to multiple prescriptions that have the potential to make symptoms worse.
A Healing Place – The Estates offers concurrent treatment; meaning our medical, clinical, and psychiatric team collaborate in the treatment planning for each individual patient. This is one of the most effective ways to build a results-based treatment plan based on a patient’s unique needs. We are able to do this because we are a small, individualized program, taking no more than 6 patients at a time.
Once a treatment plan is complete, we are able to incorporate the following (as needed) to address the pain of living with lupus:
- Genomic testing that allows our doctors to see what medications are and are not being metabolized by your body
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional education and anti-inflammatory based diet
- Relaxation response training
- Restorative Yoga
- Aqua Exercise
Living with any chronic illness almost always impacts psychological health. What many are often unaware of is that our emotions have the potential to influence pain signals and change our perception of pain. This is why it is so important to develop healthy coping strategies and emotional regulation techniques.
Some of the most common co-occurring psychological disorders for Lupus patients include:
- Grief & Loss
- Sleep Deprivation
We have a number therapeutic modalities that helps to improve our patient’s mental health conditions. These include:
- Biofeedback Training with emWave2 Handheld Device by HeartMath
- Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Psychiatric Consultation
- Music / Acoustical Therapy
- Mindfulness Interventions
- Motivational Interviewing
- Self-Hypnotic MP3s
Family and friends are often the first system of support when someone is diagnosed with a chronic condition. They are there to listen, offer support, assist in transportation to and from appointments, and help with other day-to-day activities.
Unfortunately, the resiliency of caregivers often dwindles over time. Friends become more distant as it becomes more difficult to attend social functions (let alone get through the day!) Family members become worn down. They become less available to offer emotional support, and in some cases, begin to resent the difficulties that come with supporting someone living with a chronic illness.
When support structures break down, it is vital to reestablish healthy communication strategies. This can prevent burnout and ensure that everyone is being heard and getting their needs met. We help patients become more resilient with a few strategic interventions that include:
- Group therapy
- Intensive family workshops
- Social needs assessment
- Support groups
Many patients coming to our program feel as if they have lost a piece of themselves to their chronic illness. They also feel as though they have lost their purpose, sense of direction, and feel as if their higher power has abandoned them.
One of our treatment goals is to help patients connect with their higher power. Some will reconnect with an identified religion and strengthen a bond that has diminished over time. Others who do not identify with religions explore spiritual dimensions with nature, energy, and human connectedness. It is our mission to help you find a sense of hope and inspiration no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. We do this in a few different ways:
- Spiritual Direction with Shannon Savage-Howie, Spiritual Director
- The Four Agreements
- Mindfulness and meditation
Read more about The Role of Spirituality in Chronic Pain Management
Stop Suffering, Get Help Today
Stop suffering with the help of our triple diagnosis treatment program. We can help you find sustainable solutions for pain management, while addressing psychological conditions and addictive behaviors that often complicate treatment.
Our team of professionals will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that is reflective of your unique needs and goals. Stop surviving and start thriving. Call today, or send us an email to get the process started. 844-388-4100