Lupus Symptoms

Lower Back Pain, Chronic Inflammation, & Lupus

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Many Lupus Warriors, particularly people with nephritis, struggle with constant aches & lower back pain. A number of tests can help identify the cause.

From constant, dull pains to sharp pangs, back pain is the worst. It can immobilize you and have you stuck on the couch or the floor.

It’s not certain that lower back pain is a direct or indirect cause of lupus. Many Lupus Warriors experience chronic lower back pain that is often associated with fibromyalgia or lupus nephritis.


The Causes of Lower Back Pain for Lupus Warriors

Lupus Nephritis and Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain usually occurs in people when lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack the kidneys. The medical term for this is lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis causes inflammation of the small blood vessels that filter wastes in your kidney, which are called glomeruli.

Learn more about lupus nephritis and the kidneys here.


Tests to help determine lupus nephritis

Urine Test

The urine test will detect if there is any protein in the urine. Diseases that affect kidneys many times cause your glomeruli to leak protein into your urine causing it to have a foamy appearance. The term for the condition of having protein in the urine is called proteinuria.

A symptom of lupus nephritis is blood in the urine. Although it’s typically easy to spot blood in the urine, a urine test can detect this as well.

Blood Test

There are several things technicians look for with diagnostic labs involving the blood. The first is cholesterol and protein levels. When they are high, that means the kidneys are not filtering waste the way they should.

Blood tests also check the GFR (glomerular filtration rate), which also shows how well kidneys filter waste.

Finally, blood tests check for antiphospholipid antibodies and anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA), which indicate autoimmune diseases..

Kidney Biopsy

A biopsy of the kidney can also detect if a case has evolved into lupus nephritis. Biopsies are invasive procedures where a clinician removes a small slice of a particular organ for analysis under a microscope.

Muscle Inflammation—Myositis

A very common cause of lower back pain for Lupus Warriors is muscle inflammation. Lupus does not only inflame a muscle, it inflames muscle groups. The medical term for this is myositis.

Muscle Aches—Myalgia

When there is a dull aching constant pain of the muscles, the medical term to use is myalgia. Myalgia is usually considered chronic—unlike inflammation. Chronic pain—especially chronic lower back pain—can interfere with daily life.


How to Treat Lupus Lower Back Pain

If the lower back pain is connected to lupus nephritis, medical treatment is extremely necessary and needs to be immediately addressed. If the lower back pain is associated with muscle inflammation or myalgia, there are certain measures Lupus Warriors can take to ease some of the discomfort.


When it comes to inflammation, take all the necessary steps to reduce stress and prevent flares. It’s also important to maintain the strength of the lower back as well. The lower back can have surprising effects on the gluteal muscles and leg muscles.

It’s important to exercise the lower back muscles in the event a flare leaves the body debilitated for a number of days. Getting back on the feet, walking, bending over, lifting, etc, can all be difficult on the lower back after it has not moved for an extended period of time.


Massaging the lower back might help with myalgia. Working the muscles with the pressure and mild stretching of massages might release some of the tension and alleviate the dull aching pain. After a thorough massage, it’s always important to drink plenty of water to reap the full benefits.

Reflexology, a form of massage, may also provide some benefit.


If the doctor or medical provider gives the okay to exercise, a more intense form of stretching might help myalgia of the lower back. Stretching the hamstrings and gluteus muscles every day will release the lower back muscle group and possibly manage pain throughout the day. Studies have shown stretching has a significant positive impact on myalgia.

A Final Note

Because of the connection to lupus nephritis, it is always a good idea to bring up symptoms you are experiencing with your lupus treatment team. Aches and pains are common with lupus, but they can be key indicators of disease changes.

Comments (17)

17 thoughts on “Lower Back Pain, Chronic Inflammation, & Lupus

  1. I appreciate the information I have found on your site. I was diagnosed with SLE 11 years ago .

  2. Thank you for this information. I was recently diagnosed with Lupus by my Dr. Waiting for appointment with Rheumatology. After reading this site I see myself all over. I will be 58 tomorrow, I’m too young for this. 😥

    1. A new Lupus Warrior! Sadly, lupus doesn’t discriminate. You can suffer this at any age. I’ve had it since I was 23. I’m 52 now. Keep your chin up. Eventually you’ll get the hang of riding this daily rollercoaster called Lupus. Work closely with your rheumatologist. You and all the lupus warriors out there are in my prayers.

      1. I understand!!! I was diagnosed when I was 3 now I’m 30. The struggle is real. Most important learn your triggers

  3. I have been battling with SLE since 2016.I can’t walk sometimes and it lasts for months at a time.I have started having lower back pain and I have Rheumatoid arthritis also and hypertension. I am only 38 years old.I am in pain all through out my body on daily basis.My hands are beginning to curve and I can’t use them at times.I put in for disability and I have been denied.It is impossible to work with so many complications.I am always depressed and I can’t afford a specialist or to pay for my medicine and doctors visits.So as of now I am receiving no treatment for SLE or Rheumatologist.I am afraid these diseases will take me out when I only 38.Lupus patients have limited help and some needs to support us a little more than they do because this disease makes it impossible to do daily basis activities do to the awful pain we go through.I am to young to die from this disease I truly need help.

    1. Don’t give up ask for a fare hearing . I was diagnosed in 2016 and I applied ask well haven’t heard anything yet .
      From the first time you applied you will get all that back .

      1. Get a lawyer, they get paid when you win your case. If this is for Social Security and you haven’t turned in your initial claim form, get the lawyer to help you because Social Security’s goal is to deny. Unless you are “end stage” or in hospice, your initial request is denied, but set for an appeal. You also need to call your Congressman (national level House of Representatives) and ask for their help expediting your case. They will want you to come into their local office (shouldn’t be too far from your home) for a brief meeting, maybe take your picture. The whole process can take anywhere from 8 – 18 months if you go it alone. Your Congressman can shorten down a lot. IF you end up winning, t
        Social Security WILL send you a check for all payments you missed, going back to the 1st day you became disabled. If you have children under the age of 18, they can also receive benefits until they are 18 AND finished high school (so if they birthday during the school year, they can still receive benefits until the end of the school year. Children with summer birthdays continue to receive benefits until their birthday. Once you win, make sure to contact your state and local tax groups; they will freeze your tax rate.

    2. Sanquanita, I was diagnosed with lupus three years ago. My husband is an attorney who handles appeals for people who have been denied in California. You should definitely get a lawyer to appeal your case. Its free for you. It does take a while but you will get retro pay covering the time since you first applied. Good luck.

  4. Hi Sanquanita Francis! I’m sorry you are suffering. I understand your pain, sadness, maybe some anger mixed with frustration. Please go online to Lupus Foundation of America website lupus.org look under resources….there is information there for free and low cost medical care that may be of help to you. You are in my prayers! Virtual hugs to you!!! You are not alone!

  5. Question: I injured my back at work; I now have 2 bulging disks, pain, weakness in my left leg with left foot drop. It seems to be taking forever to heal. The physical therapists ended treatment because not only am I not making progress, he thinks I getting worse. The workman comp.doc says I can return to work even though I cannot.sleep more than 3.5 hours before pain wakes me. My pain stays in a 7 – 9 range every day since September. I’m a teacher, so theere is a lot of walking and sitting. So far, at home, 30 of PT puts me at a 9 for hours. Do you think my Lupus could explain why the recovery is so very slow, painful, and contribute to the foot drop? I’m told the bulging disks can’t be the cause of the numbness and foot drop due to the disk displacement is so very small. If this isn’t partly Lupus, then I don’t know what to do

  6. Hi Jerramye! I have lupus, but I too have two bulging discs in my lower lumbar (back) region. I believe you most likely have sciatica. This will absolutely give you a numbing feeling not only down the leg where the discs are bulging, but I now get it down my other leg as well. Sciatica is no joke, and as a former teacher myself, I remember my students saying I would “make funny faces” at times and I knew that was when it felt like a lightning bolt was going from my back to the tip of my toes. I recommend seeing a Physiatrist ( A specialized back doctor) to see what recommendations can be given to make surgery your last choice. I get injections of steroids on both sides of my spine in the area of the bulging discs and also swim daily to help keep the pain tolerable. They both help but I never knew how much exercise really helped. My pain now is down to a 5, which is pretty tolerable! I hope this helps!

  7. Don’t worry good diet lots of exercise I have s l e since 1980 I am 74 mind over matter keep busy you will all be okay .

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