Chronic Pain in Autoimmune Diseases

Listen to Dr. Risk's Show on Autoimmune Diseases.

What in an Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease is defined by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology as “an illness that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack normal body tissues."1  In other words, your body is attacking itself or a part of itself because it sees it as a foreign entity or threat. Why? We don’t know. Chronic pain from inflammation is one of our body’s responses to this attack, which is why it is so prevalent as a symptom in many autoimmune diseases.

Which Autoimmune Diseases Cause Chronic Pain?

Autoimmune diseases that can cause pain can include (but aren’t limited to): 

  • Lyme disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Hashimotos thyroiditis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Psoriasis
  • Vasculitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Celiac disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Myasthenia gravis

What Does Pain in an Autoimmune Disease Look Like?

Pain is split into two separate categories: fast acting (acute) and slow acting (chronic) pain.

Fast or acute pain occurs very rapidly (0.1 seconds) after a stimulus is applied, feels sharp or pricking, and is not felt in deeper tissues of the body. Slow or chronic pain begins a second or more after a stimulus is applied and gradually increases in intensity over several seconds or minutes. It feels like burning, aching, or throbbing and can occur both superficially and in deeper tissues or organs. Chronic pain usually lasts for more than 2-3 months despite various treatments. 

How Is Chronic Pain Managed with Autoimmune Disease Treated?

Currently, there is no pain management programs because no two people deal with pain in the same way. The main goal when treating chronic pain is to first, decrease pain as much as possible and second, to help the sufferer adapt to living with the pain that still occurs. Some of these therapies include:

  • Analgesics
  • Counselling
  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy

At Ananta Health, autoimmune diseases are our specialty. Treatment shouldn't overstimulate the pain and must provide relief. Our first step is performing BioScan SRT testing to determine the root cause of the pain, which would then provide results that help formulate specific treatment plans that include methods of traditional Chinese medicine, supplements and herbs, and lifestyle and dietary adjustments.  

How Can Acupuncture Help Autoimmune Disease Pain?

Acupuncture is best known for its pain management abilities; it reduces pain without creating more inflammation. It also helps lessen other symptoms of autoimmune illness, such as promoting regulation in the immune system, addressing fatigue, and anxiety and depression.

1 © 2022 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Autoimmune Disease Defined. Retrieved on September 22nd, 2022 from,-Asthma-Immunology-Glossary/Autoimmune-Disease-Defined.