Looking to lead a stronger, healthier life?
Sign up for our Wellness Wire newsletter for all sorts of nutrition, fitness, and wellness wisdom.

Now we’re in this together.
Thanks for subscribing and having us along on your health and wellness journey.

See all Healthline's newsletters »

Could Gluten Be Triggering Your Arthritis?

1 of
  • Introduction


    Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, usually in the hands, and can be very painful. People with arthritis often have swelling and stiffness in their joints, making daily activities difficult. It is usually treated with medication, and in some severe cases, surgery.

    However, medication and surgery aren’t the only ways to help manage your arthritis. What you eat can also have an impact on how inflamed your joints become. Certain foods can help fight inflammation and boost your immune system, while other foods, like sugar and alcohol can irritate arthritis. Gluten, a protein in wheat, may also cause a flare up of arthritis symptoms, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

  • Arthritis and Autoimmune Disorders

    Arthritis and Autoimmune Disorders

    There are many types of arthritis, and researchers are still unsure about exactly what causes it. Rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis are two types of arthritis that are considered autoimmune disorders. This means that your immune system isn’t functioning properly and attacks healthy cells, causing inflammation and damage. In this case, the immune system attacks the cells around the joints, inflaming them and causing pain.

    Arthritis affects most people in the joints, but when it is an autoimmune disorder, it can have an effect on other areas of the body too and lead to developing other disorders. 

  • Celiac Disease and Gluten

    Celiac Disease and Gluten

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. When you have Celiac disease and you eat food with gluten (breads, cereals, pastas), your body attacks the gluten, causing pain in the intestines and diarrhea.

    Since the gluten can be anywhere in your blood, people with Celiac can have pain and inflammation in other areas of the body, such as the joints. It can also cause damage to organs and your bones and lead to weight loss.

    People with Celiac disease have to follow a strict gluten-free diet to avoid these symptoms. Celiac disease is also under-diagnosed because some of the symptoms mimic other conditions like arthritis.

  • Celiac and Autoimmune Disorders

    Celiac and Autoimmune Disorders

    If you have Celiac disease, you are at risk for developing another autoimmune disorder. In fact, the older you are when you are diagnosed, the more likely you are to develop another disorder. According to the Celiac Foundation, there is a 2.5-7% chance of developing juvenile arthritis if you have Celiac. Rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, two other autoimmune disorders, are also linked to Celiac.

  • Connection between Arthritis and Gluten

    Connection between Arthritis and Gluten

    So is there a connection between arthritis and gluten? Researchers aren’t sure, but some people have noticed that their arthritis is worse after eating certain foods, including gluten. People with arthritis are encourage to follow a diet low in salt, fats, and carbohydrates to avoid inflaming their joints.

    To date, there is no research that shows that arthritis can cause Celiac, but Celiac may have an effect on arthritis.

  • Connection between Celiac Disease and Arthritis

    Connection between Celiac Disease and Arthritis

    If you have Celiac, you have an increased chance of developing another autoimmune disorders, like Addison’s disease, Crohn’s disease, or arthritis. Sometimes Celiac disease can be misdiagnosed as arthritis, especially if your only symptoms are pain in your joints.

    If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and have joint pain, talk to your doctor about Celiac, especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type I, or another autoimmune disorder.

  • Should You Consider a Gluten Free Diet?

    Should You Consider a Gluten Free Diet?

    While the Arthritis Foundation recommends that you avoid gluten if you have arthritis, you should not consider a gluten-free diet unless you have a diagnosis of Celiac disease or are diagnosed with gluten intolerance. If you have arthritis, try limiting your intake of gluten, and see if your symptoms improve.

  • Conclusion


    Much research into the connection between gluten and arthritis still needs to be done. If you have arthritis, talk to your doctor about your diet and what you can do to relieve your symptoms.

Loading next slideshow