Complementary Therapies for Lupus: Considering Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Care

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Did you know that May is Lupus Awareness Month? According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States have systemic lupus erythematosus–more commonly known as lupus–and about 16,000 new cases are reported each year. With National Women’s Health Week on the horizon (mark your calendars for May 13 through May 19, 2018!), it makes sense to talk about lupus, since an estimated 90 percent of patients with this condition are women. Although there is currently no cure for lupus, there are a variety of complementary therapies–including regular massage, chiropractic care, and nutritional support–that may help alleviate some of the most common symptoms that patients deal with on a daily basis.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Patients with Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition, which means that your immune system mistakenly sees your own cells as foreign invaders and mounts an attack against them. Depending on the patient, lupus can affect a wide range of organs and tissues–including your joints, skin, blood, kidneys, heart, and/or lungs–but no matter what, the ongoing damage caused by the immune response can lead to inflammation and chronic pain.

That’s where massage therapy comes in. By improving circulation throughout your body, deep tissue massage can reduce inflammation and the pain that comes along with it. Indeed, many patients with lupus report that getting a regular deep tissue massage lessens their pain and improves their overall quality of life. Additionally, in one published case study, a patient with lupus reported an improvement in sleep quality as a result of regular massage therapy. Therefore, it can be an ideal option for the many lupus patients who struggle with fatigue as a result of the condition.

Like deep tissue massage, neuromuscular massage therapy (NMT) is another massage modality that may make sense for patients with lupus. In an NMT session, the massage therapist designs the treatment around your pain tolerance level, which can be helpful if you have lupus, since the level of pain can vary significantly between patients and can change over time. Choosing NMT ensures that the massage therapist can provide you with the individualized treatment you need by targeting the tissues that are most affected by your condition.

As a patient with lupus, you may also benefit from Thai massage. This unique massage modality is basically an assisted yoga session, in which the massage therapist guides your body through a series of poses. It’s common for patient with lupus to have trouble with flexibility, and Thai massage can help loosen up your muscles and joints. That can help improve your mobility so you can keep doing the things you love.

Chiropractic Care for Lupus: Spinal Manipulation and Nutritional Support

Chiropractic care is another complementary therapy option that patients with lupus may want to consider. Through a combination of spinal manipulation and nutritional support, a chiropractor can help you effectively manage some of your most significant symptoms. For example, “achy joints” is one of the most common complaints for patients with lupus. By improving the alignment of your spine, chiropractic care can optimize the integrated movements of your joints and tendons. Plus, even if you don’t have lupus, a lack of alignment can lead to cell and tissue damage that promotes inflammation–which will only make your inflammatory symptoms worse if you do have lupus.

A chiropractor can also serve as a nutritional counselor who can help you get on a diet that helps relieve the symptoms of lupus. By recommending anti-inflammatory supplements, helping you increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, and empowering you to avoid foods that trigger inflammation, a chiropractor can give you the tools you need to make the most of every meal. For some patients with lupus, these dietary changes can even help reduce reliance on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory supplements (NSAIDs) for pain relief. As a patient with lupus, here are two of the nutrients you may want to explore:


  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and scientists have been exploring their effectiveness in patients with lupus for decades. The results from clinical trials are mixed, but some patients show clear improvements. You can take omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form, or you can boost your intake by including foods like flax seeds and salmon in your meals.
  • Curcumin. Curcumin, which is the active component of the spice turmeric, has long been recognized as an anti-inflammatory compound. It also has antioxidant properties, which means it can help curb other sources of inflammation that can exacerbate symptoms in patients with lupus. That’s great news for curry fans, since turmeric is the spice that gives curry its distinctive color and flavor. You can also find curcumin supplements, which provide the compound in a more bioavailable form.


Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers a wide range of massage modalities and chiropractic services that can help meet the unique health needs of any patient, including those who have lupus. Contact us today to learn more!

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