Pain Management and Scleroderma

Author: Janey Willis. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer.
Video Introduction
Pain and Relationships
Pain and Scleroderma
Exercise and Arthritis
Managing Pain
Pain Treatments
Pet Therapy
Research on Pain
Personal Stories

Video Introduction

Pain Management in Scleroderma Video
Video: Pain Management in Scleroderma

Presented by Amanda Thorpe
*More Sclero Videos*

Many people with scleroderma suffer from chronic pain. In order to maintain an acceptable quality of life it is important to learn how to manage the pain.

You need to acknowledge to yourself and to others that you are in pain and that you need help managing it. There's no shame in this and admitting it doesn't mean you're weak or a complainer. It means you've taken the first step towards finding ways to manage it.

Pain relievers and prescription drugs are a common treatment for pain and in some cases necessary in order to get some level of relief but managing pain long term requires lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, improving your sleep patterns and working with physical therapists.

If you suffer from chronic pain, please see your doctor and/or a pain management specialist. They will work with you to find the source of your pain and ways to manage it. It may take a while, but when you suffer from chronic pain, you already know there's no quick, easy remedy and that any relief is welcome relief.


Pain can be an acute pain that comes on suddenly and goes away quickly. Pain can also be a chronic pain that comes on slowly and persists for months and even years. Many people with scleroderma suffer from chronic pain; therefore, in order to maintain an acceptable quality of life it is important to learn how to manage the pain.

Pain relievers and prescription drugs are a common treatment for pain, and, in some cases, necessary in order to get some level of relief. However, managing pain goes beyond medication. Managing pain requires lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, learning how to relax, improving your sleep patterns, eating better, working with physical therapists, and getting more exercise.

If you suffer from chronic pain, please see your primary care physician and a pain management specialist. They will work with you to find the source of your pain and ways to manage it. It may take a while, but when you suffer from chronic pain, you already know that any relief is welcome relief.

Pain and Relationships

Spouse hostility may worsen chronic low back pain. People with chronic low back pain may feel it even more sharply if their spouses are critical and unsupportive of their condition, according to a recent study. Reuters Health, 08/18/2017.

How Chronic Pain and Illness Can Impact Your Relationship (Includes Video). Millions are forced to deal with illness and chronic pain — and the huge impact it has on their relationships. Here are five ways to safeguard your bond. Everyday Health. (Also see Marriage/Health)

Pain and Scleroderma

Association between cortisol levels and pain threshold in systemic sclerosis and major depression. The effect of cortisol serum levels upon pain mechanism, in chronic inflammatory conditions warrants longitudinal studies to detect treatable variations in pain thresholds, depressive symptoms and to improve quality of life. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 10/30/2017. (Also see Depression)

5 Sources of Pain in Scleroderma. Pain, along with fatigue, is one of the main symptoms of scleroderma and one of the toughest to deal with on a day–to–day basis. Scleroderma News, 05/11/2017.

Sleep disturbances in systemic sclerosis (SSc): evidence for the role of gastrointestinal symptoms, pain and pruritus. Gastrointestinal symptoms, pain and pruritus were associated with sleep disturbance in SSc. Additional research is needed on sleep in SSc so that well-informed sleep interventions can be developed and tested. PubMed, Rheumatology. (Also see Sleep Disorders and Scleroderma, Gastrointestinal Involvement, and Scleroderma Skin Involvement: Itching)

Exercise and Arthritis

The Easy Way to Stop Yourself From Overeating. Exercise may be the key to keeping your appetite in check. Time Healthland, 05/11/2016.

How to Get Rid of Lower Back Pain. When you have lower back pain, you may not want to leave your bed—but the best way to get some relief is actually to get moving, according to new research. Time Healthland, 01/11/2016.

Exercise helps manage hip arthritis pain. Water or land based exercise should provide some short-term benefit in pain management for hip osteoarthritis, though there are few well-designed trials testing it, according to a new review. Reuters Health, 12/11/2015.

Half of adults do NO exercise AT ALL. Being fit and healthy is not ‘an integral part of people's lives’ and almost half of adults admit to doing ‘no exercise whatsoever’, a new study has revealed. Mail Online, 08/14/2015.

A Better Treatment for Alzheimer’s: Exercise. Exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and now research shows it works as a great therapy, as well. NBC News, 07/23/2015.

Managing Pain

Prescription Painkiller Addiction: 7 Myths. Where is the line between appropriate use and addiction to prescription pain medicines? And how can patients stay on the right side of that line, without suffering needlessly? WebMD.

Adding music to pain meds may reduce pain. As a complement to traditional pain relief tools like medication, listening to music may lessen acute or chronic pain related to cancer and other conditions, according to a new review. Reuters Health, 11/04/2016.

Mindfulness—What Works for Whom? Referral, Feasibility, and User Perspectives Regarding Patients with Mixed Chronic Pain. Mindfulness meditation makes a difference for patients. Patients felt rested and in better control of their pain and its role in their life. PubMed, J Altern Complement Med, 2016 Apr;22(4):298-305. (Also see Alternative Therapies)

Complementary therapies. Trying one or more complementary therapies may reduce pain, help you cope with stress, and improve your emotional and physical well-being. WebMD, 03/12/2014. (Also see Alternative Therapies)

Pain Management Guide. Day-to-day life can be a battle when you've got chronic pain. With these tips, the good days will outnumber the bad days—and quality of life will win. WebMD

Pain Treatments

Fighting Chronic Pain. New treatments are in the pipeline, but what works best now? AARP.

The role of the endocannabinoid system in pain. Signalling through both CB1 and CB2 receptor subtypes has a role in normal nociceptive processing and also in the development resolution of acute pain states. PubMed, Handb Exp Pharmacol, 2015;227:119-43. (Also see Endocannabinoid System)

Potential applications of marijuana and cannabinoids in medicine. Substances affecting cannabinoid receptors may show beneficial effects, but they may also cause the risk of side effects related mainly to the inhibition of central nervous system. PubMed, Pol Merkur Lekarski, 2014 Oct;37(220):248-52.

Pain in rheumatoid arthritis: a critical review. The management of pain requires various approaches that include pharmacological analgesia and biological and non-biological treatments and although joint replacement surgery can significantly improve RA-related pain, it may only be available to patients with the most severe advanced disease. PubMed, Reumatismo, 2014 Jun 6;66(1):18-27. (Also see Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy: Huggable Healthcare Workers. The dog can be a distraction to the pain that a patient feels, and also to the rigor or the monotony of the therapy. It provides comfort for those who respond to animals. It also is a method to improve movement, to improve speech, and cognitive functioning. Discovery Health. (Also see Coping Strategies)

Pet Therapy. Studies have shown that physical contact with a pet can lower high blood pressure, and improve survival rates for heart attack victims. There is also evidence that petting an animal can cause endorphins to be released. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that suppress the pain response. HealthLine. (Also see Coping Strategies)

14 diseases you can get from your pets. Although the numerous health benefits of pets far outweigh the risks, it canít hurt to know what diseases to watch out for. Mother Nature Network, 10/01/2015. (Also see Coping Strategies)

What infections can animals pass to people? Animals can pass many infections to people, although this route of infection is rare. The medical name for these infections is zoonoses. NHS Choices, 04/20/2015. (Also see Coping Strategies)

Research on Pain

The Study of Injured Squid Explains Human Irritability and Pain. Squid that have one of their tentacles cut off react more strongly to visual stimuli. Pain makes our peripheral sensory system become hyperactive, guarding us against further threats. Time Magazine, 05/08/2014.

Personal Stories

Betty M: CREST Syndrome I was in so much pain for so long that I tried to take my own life. This only ended me up in a mental institution where I was given shock treatments that wiped out my whole memory…

Carol C: CREST Syndrome Scleroderma and Raynaud's have not robbed me of a fulfilling career…

Denise: Systemic Sclerosis and CREST. It all started when I was sixteen years old. I was having awful pains in my hands and feet…

Kelli: Morphea Scleroderma I am a twenty-six-year-old, married, mother of two girls in Texas. I was diagnosed with Morphea in the first grade…

Nettie: Systemic Scleroderma with CREST. Up until now I have done very well at pretending not to be ill…

Terry: CREST I was told that I have CREST by a doctor who saw me in a Workman's Compensation case…

Go to Quality of Life with Scleroderma

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