Objective: Patients' own experiences of subjective symptoms are scarcely covered, and the objective of this study was to investigate the extent and characteristics of self-reported pain in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: This study comprised a cross-sectional design where 84 patients with SLE were asked to complete self-assessments: visual analogue scale of pain and the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire. Medical assessments, including ESR, SLAM, SLEDAI, and SLICC, were also performed.
Results: Of the study population, 24% reported higher levels of SLE-related pain (≥40 mm on VAS). This group had a significantly shorter disease duration, higher ESR, and higher disease activity, according to the SLAM and SLEDAI, compared to the rest of the study population. This group mainly used the words "tender," "aching," and "burning" to describe moderate and severe pain, and they used a greater number of words to describe their pain. Of the patients with higher levels of pain, 70% reported their present pain as "distressing." The most common pain location for the whole patient population was the joints. Patients rated their disease activity significantly higher than physicians did.
Conclusion: These findings expand the current knowledge of the extent of SLE-related pain and how patients perceive this pain. The results can contribute to affirmative, supportive and caring communication and especially highlight SLE-related pain in patients with a short disease duration and high disease activity.