Arthritis is an inflammation of your joints. It usually affects your hands and can be very painful. People with arthritis often have swelling and stiffness in their joints, which may impact daily activities. It’s 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. Other foods, such as 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.

There are many types of arthritis, and researchers are currently unsure about exactly what causes it. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile arthritis (JA) are two types of arthritis that are considered autoimmune disorders.

These conditions happen when your immune system attacks healthy cells, causing inflammation and damage. In this case, your immune system attacks your cells around your joints, inflaming them and causing pain.

Arthritis affects most people in their joints. When arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, it can have an effect on other areas of your body too and lead to the development of other disorders.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. When you have celiac disease and you eat foods with gluten such as breads, cereals, and pastas, your body attacks the gluten, causing pain in your intestines and diarrhea.

Since the gluten can be anywhere in your blood, people with celiac can have pain and inflammation in other areas of their bodies, such as their joints. It can also cause organ damage, bone loss (osteoporosis), and weight loss.

People with celiac disease have to follow a gluten-free diet to avoid these symptoms. Celiac disease is also underdiagnosed because some symptoms mimic other conditions such as arthritis.

If you have celiac disease, you’re at risk for developing another autoimmune disorder. In fact, the older you are when you’re diagnosed, the more likely you are to develop another disorder.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, there is a 1.5 to 6.6 percent chance of developing juvenile arthritis if you have celiac. RA and diabetes, two other autoimmune disorders, are also linked to celiac.

So, is there a connection between arthritis and gluten? Researchers aren’t sure, but some people have noticed that their arthritis is severe after eating certain foods, including gluten.

People with arthritis are encouraged to follow a diet low in salt, fats, and carbohydrates to avoid joint inflammation. Read about other foods to avoid if you have arthritis.

To date, there’s no research that shows that arthritis can cause celiac, but celiac may have an effect on arthritis.

If you have celiac, you have an increased chance of developing other autoimmune disorders, such as 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’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and have joint pain, talk with your doctor about celiac. This is especially important if you have RA, type 1 diabetes mellitus, or another autoimmune disorder.

While the Arthritis Foundation states that when people diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance start following a gluten-free diet, some may also find relief from arthritis symptoms. Avoiding gluten is not a general recommendation for people with arthritis. Talk with your doctor to discuss whether it would be a good option for you.

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