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21-07-2018 | Systemic sclerosis | Review | Article

Pain and Its Management in Systemic Sclerosis

Current Treatment Options in Rheumatology

Authors: PhD, MPH Erin L. Merz, MD, MS Shervin Assassi, PhD Vanessa L. Malcarne

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


Purpose of review

Pain is one of the most common quality of life concerns in systemic sclerosis (SSc). This review summarizes the literature on risk factors and potential clinical assessment and treatment strategies.

Recent findings

SSc pain is associated with, but not defined by, disease parameters and severity. The extant literature suggests that psychosocial factors such as mental health are relevant to pain. Brief pain screenings can be followed by a more comprehensive assessment to help inform intervention strategies for affected patients. The literature on pain management is relatively small, but numerous studies and clinical practice recommendations suggest that there are multiple avenues for intervention. These include medical treatments, physical activity and rehabilitation programs, and psychotherapeutic techniques.


There are many promising approaches to SSc pain treatment. Future research should include systematic evaluation of treatments that have been proposed in SSc and/or have demonstrated efficacy in other chronic pain or rheumatic samples. Particular attention should be paid to treatments that include a non-pharmacological component and are more easily accessible for patients.

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