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Dupilumab Induced Joint Pain: Meaning, Side Effects, Contraindications, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Dupilumab is an injection used to treat asthma, atopic dermatitis, and several other conditions. It may cause joint pain. Read the article to know more about it.

Written by

Dr. Aparna Arun

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Atul Prakash

Published At October 25, 2023
Reviewed AtOctober 25, 2023

What Is Dupilumab?

Dupilumab is a drug that is also known as dupixent. It is a monoclonal antibody. It is an injection used to treat conditions such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, rhinosinusitis, and prurigo nodularis. It can be used in adults and some children, depending on their requirements. Dupilumab has various side effects, varying from mild to severe depending on the situation one takes the drug for.

What Are the Common Side Effects of Dupilumab?

Dupilumab causes various adverse effects. These adverse effects may be temporary and will last for a few days or months. If the side effects of the drugs last for a longer time, getting medical advice may be beneficial. Some of the common adverse effects of the drug which people take for eczema (atopic dermatitis) include:

  • Pain and swelling in the injected area.

  • Inflammation of the cornea(keratitis).

  • Eyelid inflammation (blepharitis).

  • Cold sores on the lips and corner of the mouth.

  • Conjunctivitis.

  • Dry eyes.

  • Itchy eyes.

Some of the adverse effects of the drug in people who take it for rhinosinusitis along with nasal polyps include:

  • Pain and swelling in the injected area.

  • Eosinophilia.

  • Toothache.

  • Difficulty in sleeping(insomnia).

  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis).

Some adverse effects of dupilumab treated for eosinophilic esophagitis include:

  • Joint pain.

  • Herpes zoster.

  • Upper respiratory tract infection.

Adverse effects when treated for asthma include:

  • Throat pain.

  • Eosinophilia.

Adverse effects when treated for prurigo nodularis include:

  • Muscle pain.

  • Pink eye.

  • Nasopharyngitis.

  • Dizziness.

In addition, the most severe side effect of dupilumab is allergic reactions, eosinophilic conditions, and other eye-related infections.

Why Does Dupilumab Cause Joint Pain?

Dupilumab is a drug that is also known as dupixent. It is a monoclonal antibody. It is an injection used to treat conditions such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, rhinosinusitis, and prurigo nodularis. Depending on their conditions, it can be used in adults and some children. Dupilumab has various side effects, which may vary from mild to severe depending on the condition one takes the drug for.

Who Gets Dupilumab-Induced Joint Pain?

  • Dupilumab is most commonly used in patients who have a problem with the skin. A dermatologist usually prescribes it.

  • It is used in patients who are diagnosed with chronic hand eczema, chronic spontaneous urticaria, contact dermatitis, alopecia areata, chronic pruritus, prurigo nodularis, eosinophilic annular erythema, papuloerythroderma l, bullous pemphigoid, and cholinergic urticaria.

  • Studies have shown that people injected with dupilumab for rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps are more prone to joint pain or arthralgia. Rhinosinusitis is a condition that causes swelling in the nasal sinuses and nasal passages. The noncancerous growth in the nose is called nasal polyps.

  • The joint pain is frequently reported in patients who take dupilumab for atopic dermatitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Dupilumab-Induced Joint Pain?

  • Under some studies, the patient who takes dupilumab may experience moderate to severe pain in the joints and stiffness of the hips, especially in the morning, and the stiffness may also occur in the knees, hands, feet, and shoulders.

  • Some patients may experience pain on palpation and reduced range of motion in one or multiple joints.

How Is Dupilumab-Induced Joint Pain Treated?

At first, if the injection of dupilumab causes joint pain, the person should immediately stop the medicine, and they should reach out to healthcare professionals and consult them to manage the joint pain. The doctors may prescribe alternative injections by blocking them in the future. There are many home remedies that a patient can use to manage joint pain, which include

  • Application of cold packs or hot packs to the affected joints.

  • Involving in gentle exercises like swimming.

  • Involve in practicing relaxation activities like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.

  • The person can also get over-the-counter medications to relieve pain. Some over-the-counter pain relief medicines include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and topical anti-inflammatory gels such as diclofenac gel (Voltaren). If the person has asthma, avoiding over-the-counter oral anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen is better.

What Are the Contraindications of Dupilumab?

Dupilumab injection may not be suitable for all people. It causes many side effects, one of them being joint pain. If a person has some medical issues and various factors that affect their health, they should consult healthcare professionals before taking dupilumab injections. Some of the contraindications of dupilumab are:

  • Allergic Reactions - If the person had any allergic reaction after injecting dupilumab or its ingredients, they should not take dupilumab. In this case, consulting a doctor for alternative drugs may be beneficial.

  • Vaccines - Dupilumab may tend to weaken the body's immune system. So when a person is under dupilumab medication, they should not get any live vaccines, and they can cause infections. Some examples of live vaccines include typhoid vaccine, chickenpox, yellow fever, rotavirus, and MMR vaccine( measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine).

  • Asthma Attacks - It is not safe to use dupilumab for breathing problems and asthma as this can only help to reduce the severity and number of the attack but not the relief.

  • Worsened Joint Pain - Joint pain is the significant adverse effect of dupilumab. It may also worsen the joint pain of those who have the pain already. It is essential to inform doctors about joint pain while taking medical history, as prescribing dupilumab may worsen their joint pain.

  • Parasitic Infections - If the person has parasitic infections like tapeworm infections, the condition should be treated before injecting dupilumab because the disease will not go away when injected with dupilumab.

Conclusion

As dupilumab has any adverse or side effects, joint pain is the most common. Dupilumab is mainly used by dermatologists and is used to treat skin problems. This monoclonal antibiotic is used to treat various infections. Dupilumab-induced joint pain may impact the quality of life of the person who takes it. Joint pain may affect the daily routine activities of the person. The joint pain may be especially seen in the mornings. Stiffness and reduced range of motion of the joints cause restricted movements and disability in doing physical activities. So if a person gets joint pain after receiving dupilumab, it is better to consult healthcare to manage the joint pain and other effects of the medication.

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Dr. Atul Prakash
Dr. Atul Prakash

Orthopedician and Traumatology

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