Understanding Allergic Arthritis

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

In this article:

  • Knowing the basics
  • Identifying the symptoms
  • Determining the causes
  • Understanding the diagnosis & treatment

Knowing the basics

What is allergic arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition characterised by the inflammation of the joints, which can result in serious complications for surrounding bones and tissues. The condition can be triggered or aggravated by certain types of foods and medications.

In the case of allergic arthritis, the patient’s immune system reacts to the allergens in very specific ways, including raising the body’s temperature in order to fight infection. Nevertheless, these immunological responses can lead to various complications that include rheumatoid arthritis.

Allergic arthritis involves the inflammation of the joints in hands, wrists, and feet, but it can also affect other parts of the body. 

Allergic arthritis is a common condition and can affect anyone. It can cause serious complications that include carpal tunnel syndrome, inflammation in the eyes, lungs, blood vessels and heart, as well as an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. If left unchecked or untreated, allergic arthritis can also cause damage to joints, bones, tendons, and cartilage. In more severe cases, you may develop joint deformities. This condition can also cause the joints to move out of their original position.

Identifying the symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of allergic arthritis?

In the early stages or mild forms of allergy-related rheumatoid arthritis, the small joints are affected first. In more severe cases, the inflammation and other symptoms would spread to the larger joints such as the wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

Other symptoms include:

  • Tender and warm joints, which may be visibly swollen
  • Stiff joints, which can begin in the morning and last for hours
  • Rheumatoid nodules or tissue bumps under the skin of the arms, which feel firm to the touch
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Unlike other types of rheumatoid arthritis, allergic arthritis symptoms are usually observable after the patient has ingested food or medications that cause or aggravate the condition. The patient might also experience flares or periods of increased arthritic activity, as the body reacts to allergens.

Determining the causes

What causes allergic arthritis?

Allergic arthritis is caused by ingesting certain types of food and medication, which provoke an autoimmune response from the body, leading to inflammation of the joints. Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis experience joint pain after eating, but research shows that consumed food is not the root cause of the condition, but rather the specific types of proteins and other substances found in food items such as:

  • Cow’s milk, and foods containing it
  • Hen’s eggs, and foods containing it
  • Pork, and dishes containing it
  • Cereal and certain types of grains
  • Codfish

As with other cases of allergies, the immune system could mistake proteins and other substances in foods listed above as harmful invaders. Thus, triggering the immune system to produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which begins a chain reaction involving inflammation in the joints.

Research has shown that gluten can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in some individuals.

Aside from the foods listed above, the following can also increase the risk of allergic and rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Genetic factors.
  • Gender – According to several studies, more women suffer from arthritis than men as the condition is related to the female hormone, estrogen.
  • Cigarette smoking – Smokers are more vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions that involve inflammation.

Understanding the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided herein is not a substitute for any medical advice. Therefore, ALWAYS consult with a doctor for more information.

How is allergic arthritis diagnosed?

When you bear the symptoms described above, especially after eating certain kinds of food, the doctor would recommend a blood test to measure your erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). High ESR rates mean that you are at higher risk of experiencing inflammation in the body. Regular X-rays are also performed to monitor the progress of your condition.

How is allergic arthritis treated?

A rheumatologist or orthopedist can help you treat allergic arthritis. Treatment usually focuses on preventing the condition from progressing. The doctor may prescribe medication to suppress the autoimmune responses to allergens or to relieve arthritis pain. Medication can also help prevent further damage to bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

If you are concerned about any red flags with your health, please consult a doctor for advice on the best treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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