Lupus and Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs

Since a person who has systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE which is the most common type of lupus, often suffers from a great deal of pain and swelling caused by inflammation it is not uncommon for them to require some strong anti-inflammatory medication.

When the inflammation is not as serious, such as when the organs are not affected, milder medication can be used. This is important since the body can only handle so much heavy duty medication at a time. When choosing a milder anti-inflammatory the ones most likely to be used are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are frequently referred to as NSAIDs.

Eight out of Ten Agree

NSAIDs are used by approximately eighty percent of all lupus patients in the treatment of headaches or musculoskeletal aches and pains. There are many to choose from and most often it is personal preference if you are using an over the counter anti-inflammatory like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Or your health care provider may prefer to give a prescription for something a little stronger like diclofenac.

NSAIDs can be used for any of the joint pain or swelling that those with lupus may suffer from. They can also be used when there is a mild flare-up after remission or to deal with the chest pain that may occur if pleurisy is one of the conditions being dealt with by the lupus patient.


One problem with using NSAIDs is that there are limitations to what they can do. If there is kidney damage they are not enough to control or conquer the problem. They also have side effects. These can be simple ones like an upset stomach, feeling tired or retaining fluids. Or they can be more serious like high blood pressure, headaches or stomach inflammation that can cause gastric ulcers.

One way to conquer the potential stomach difficulties is to always take NSAIDs with a meal. If a person with lupus has any difficulties as a result of taking these medications they must contact their health care provider immediately so that they can determine what to do. Stopping medication may not be the answer. Let your doctor make those recommendations; do not self medicate.


There are some people who should not use NSAIDs. For example a woman who is in the first trimester should not use them. They are relatively safe but during that period it is always better to take as little medications as is possible.

People who are already suffering from kidney damage especially if it is has caused reduced kidney function since NSAIDs may have side effects that will only make these conditions worse. Not to discourage the use of these mild medications but the odd time there can be more serious side effects like liver abnormalities, asthma, severe headaches or additional rashes.

Nonetheless studies have concluded that NSAIDs are overall a good idea if the patient with lupus can tolerate them without difficulty. Though they should have regular check-ups every ninety days or so to check the blood counts and to ensure that kidney and liver function remains within the normal ranges.