By Gena Hymowech
Last week, Lady Gaga shared in a post on Instagram she is dealing with chronic pain, but is “so blessed to have such strong intelligent female doctors.”
“When my body goes into a spasm one thing I find really helps is [an] infrared sauna. … I combine this treatment with marley silver emergency blankets (seen in the photo) that trap in the heat…. In order to not overheat my system and cause more inflammation i follow this with either a VERY cold bath, ice bath (if u can stand it, it’s worth it) or the most environmentally savvy way is to keep many reusable cold packs in the freezer ( or frozen peas’ n carrots’!) and pack them around the body in all areas of pain.”
Anita Gupta, DO, PharmD, Vice Chair, Division of Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesiology, and Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, tells Yahoo Beauty, “There are a lot of different treatments for chronic pain conditions. Most importantly, for anyone with chronic pain, is that treatment should always focus on the biologic, psychological and social impact of the condition. Pain can be complex, and treatment can be just as complex, so it is very important that patients have personalized treatment plans that are based on their specific condition and lifestyle. I work with my patients to look at all ranges of treatments and help them weigh all the potential risks, benefits and alternatives before we go with any treatment plan.”
Over six years ago, Gaga told Larry King she was “borderline positive,” in regards to a lupus diagnosis. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, “A doctor may use the phrase ‘borderline lupus’ when symptoms or blood test results suggest lupus, but there is not enough information for a definite diagnosis.” Lupus is, as the Mayo Clinic explains, “a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs,” that currently has no cure.
There are many ways to handle pain with lupus, says Mary K. Crow, MD, Physician-in-Chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Chief, Division of Rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
The “local application of heat [and] cold” that Gaga is using”can sometimes relieve pain related to overuse of muscles, but for patients with lupus it is most important that the underlying immune activation and autoimmunity that contribute to pain and fatigue, and can be associated with tissue damage, are evaluated and effectively managed by a rheumatologist,” says Crow.
“The most effective approach to management of pain in lupus is to gain control of the disease activity, which is caused by alterations in the immune system and the associated inflammation. … Plaquenil and low-dose prednisone are often used. For more active disease, other agents, such as azathioprine or belimumab can be used, and mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) or cyclophosphamide are sometimes used for very active disease.”