Adequate potassium intake can have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects as part of a balanced diet. These properties may benefit symptom management of rheumatoid arthritis.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unclear, and there is currently no known cure. Lifestyle and diet modifications may help people with RA manage their symptoms.

Potassium is a key component of a balanced, healthful diet and has properties that may assist in RA symptom management. However, research into the direct benefit of potassium on RA is inconclusive.

This article assesses the possible benefits of potassium for RA.

There is a lack of conclusive evidence for the benefit of potassium in RA management. However, the limited research into the area is encouraging.

Anti-inflammatory properties

A 2018 review concluded that potassium’s general anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties might be relevant in managing RA. Researchers also noted that potassium’s cardiovascular and bone health benefits might assist RA management.

Pain relief

A study from 2008 showed a strong “anti-pain effect” of high-level potassium supplementation. Nearly half of the participants who took 6,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium daily for 28 days reported a 33% reduction in their arthritis pain. Another one-third of the participants reported a moderate decrease in pain.

Certain topical applications of potassium have also shown promise as anti-inflammatory agents. In a 2007 study, researchers found that applying a combination potassium rub could reduce local joint pain.

Blood pressure

Several factors associated with RA can increase blood pressure. Long-term blood pressure elevation (hypertension) can lead to serious cardiovascular disease. A 2015 study reported that even a 24-hour increase in potassium intake could lower blood pressure in people with RA.

Supplement risks

Supplements are not always a good idea. High doses of certain nutrients, including potassium, can have dangerous side effects.

Potassium supplements can cause stomach problems, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Higher doses can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, and heart problems.

It is important to always speak with a doctor before making large diet or supplement changes.

Studies demonstrate that people with RA tend to have lower levels of potassium in their blood.


Low potassium levels in people with RA can often be due to medications. Patients requiring steroid medications to manage their disease can experience low potassium levels. In addition, some nonsteroidal medications may interfere with the body’s ability to process potassium and cause diarrhea, which flushes the nutrient from the body.


Another important factor as a cause of low potassium is nutrition. People with RA may have a poor appetite. If a person eats less, they may not get enough essential vitamins and minerals, like potassium.

You can change your diet to increase potassium intake or talk with your doctor about whether potassium supplementation is safe for you.

Some healthy food choices rich in potassium include:

  • cantaloupe
  • potatoes
  • bananas
  • orange juice
  • raw spinach

Potassium is a key part of a healthful diet. As part of a balanced diet, the mineral can help reduce inflammation and pain.

These two actions may help people with RA manage their symptoms. But research into the effects of potassium on RA is lacking. Some studies show promising action suggestions but little by direct cause and effect.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding potassium and RA.

Can low potassium cause joint pain?

Potassium deficiency can cause muscle cramps, aches, and stiffness. If these occur around the joints, you may feel localized pain.

What are the signs of low potassium?

The main signs of low potassium are:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • digestive problems
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • difficulty breathing
  • numbness
  • frequent urination
  • high blood pressure

Do bananas help arthritis?

Bananas are high in potassium, improving bone density, reducing inflammation, and reducing general pains. These may all benefit people with RA.

Can electrolytes help arthritis?

Electrolytes is an umbrella term for many essential minerals, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Getting enough of these minerals is essential for overall good health. A balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals can help all bodily processes, including responses to conditions like arthritis.