Treatment of Lupus

There is no definitive cure for SLE, however early diagnosis and the proper care and treatment can reduce Lupus symptoms, pain and flare-ups as well as halting the process of permanent damage to the organs. The scientific research community is continually pursuing the quest for new and effective treatments as well as a process to change and expand current treatments which reduce or eradicate side effects. These treatments can add to the quality of life of persons living with Lupus.    

Treating Lupus Symptoms

While there is no current cure for Lupus, there are a number of medications which can assist Lupus patients in managing many of their SLE symptoms. Several choices of new drug therapies and treatments have increased effective treatment and outcomes for persons living with Lupus. 5 Common SLE treatments now include the use of:

  • Anti-Inflammatories
  • Antimalarials
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressive Medications
  • Anticoagulants

Developing An Effective Treatment Plan

In designing an effective treatment plan for the patient the physician’s objectives will

most likely focus on:

  • Reducing the frequency and number of flare-ups; treating flare-ups they occur.
  • Keeping organ damage and their complications to a minimum.
  • Reinforcing the need for on-going communication with the patient to ensure adherence to medication, treatment criteria and risk prevention lifestyle instructions.
  • Making patients aware of the potential harmful side effects of some treatments to assure that patients will report any problems promptly.
  • Assuring that patients are made aware that changing or stopping treatments without specific instructions may be harmful.
  • Encouraging patients to communicate any new medical problems or changes in their condition. In addition to medications for Lupus itself, the physician may prescribe other medicines to treat the patient’s additional medical problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infections.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies:  Many patients with chronic diseases such as Lupus seek out various ways of coping and treating their disease. These often include alternative, homeopathic, natural, psychosocial, physiological, and   therapeutic treatment categories.  Some of the alternative treatments that have been sought out by persons living with lupus include special or organic diets, vitamin supplements, nutritional therapy, fish oils, natural tinctures, herbal oils, ointments and creams, body manipulation, yoga, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and  homeopathic, eastern and ayurvedic medicine. Often the cost of prescribed medications and their side effects are the primary reasons for seeking out less expensive alternative forms of treatment. Other times family traditions and cultural customs are involved in utilizing alternative treatment, bringing a sense of comfort and familiarity to assist the patient in reducing the stress of coping with a chronic illness. If the physician feels that they do no harm and are not contraindicated by the prescribed Lupus treatment medicine, he/she might allow the patient to include them in their treatment plan. However, it is imperative for Lupus patients to inform their physicians of any and all alternative treatments and medications taken which are not prescribed by their physician since some may interfere with the prescribed medications. This process also can set the stage for an open exchange of treatment issues between the physician and patient.

Investigational Treatments and Research for Lupus:  New medical treatment research on Lupus is being continuously developed. Investigational trials to test out the impact of new medications and treatments are sometimes available to Lupus patients who have not responded to current available treatments. Information on investigational therapies can be obtained from the Lupus Foundation of America.5

Information on Clinical Trials: The Center for Clinical Trials Education (CCTE): 6 can provide information on clinical trials and the development of new treatments. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), (7) a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health (NIH), also has a major focus on Lupus research at its on-campus program in Bethesda, Maryland.