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

Common Causes of Pain in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc): Frequency, Severity, and Relationship to Disease Status, Depression, and Quality of Life. The majority of patients with SSc suffer from different types of pain which is associated with more severe disease, depression and poor quality of life. PubMed, Pain Manag Nurs, 05/15/2019.

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

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.

Managing Pain

Helping Children Conquer Chronic Pain. There is strong evidence for using psychological treatment for chronic pain, but that does not mean the pain isn't real. New York Times, 01/22/2019.

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)

Pain Treatments

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

The role of the endocannabinoid system in the antihyperalgesic effect of Cedrus atlantica essential oil (CaEO) inhalation in a mouse model of postoperative pain. The present study shows that CaEO inhalation exerts an antihyperalgesic effect, possibly by the activation of the endocannabinoid system in a preclinical model of postoperative pain. PubMed, J Ethnopharmacol, 2018 Jan 10;210:477-484. (Also see Endocannabinoid System)

Cannabinoids: Medical implications. Medical cannabis patients must be informed about potential adverse effects, such as acute impairment of memory, coordination and judgment, and possible chronic effects, such as cannabis use disorder, cognitive impairment, and chronic bronchitis. PubMed, Ann Med, 2016;48(3):128-41. (Also see Endocannabinoid System)

Pain in rheumatoid arthritis (RA): models and mechanisms. RA–related pain is frequently considered to be solely a consequence of inflammation in the joints; however, recent studies show that multiple mechanisms are involved. PubMed, Pain Manag, 2016;6(3):265-84. (Also see Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Pet Therapy

Owning a dog can help your heart, study finds. According to a new study published by Mayo Clinic, people who own pets, but especially dogs, are more likely to have better heart health. GMA Wellness, 08/23/2019.

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 can’t hurt to know what diseases to watch out for. Mother Nature Network. (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. (Also see Coping Strategies)

Research on Pain

Telephone–based management of chronic pain in older adults in an integrated care program. A telephone-based care management intervention is acceptable and feasible with an older community-based population and can lead to improvements in anxiety symptoms and interference from chronic pain. PubMed, Int J Geriatr Psychiatry, 03/02/2018.

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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