Is There A Connection Between Allergies And Joint Pain?

Aching joints can be a pain and distract you from work and play. While it's not always easy to pinpoint the reason for this pain, a recent theory may shed some light on this issue.

Joint pain can stem from various known causes, including sprains, tendonitis, and gout (per Mayo Clinic.) While these are more temporary and treatable, others are signs and symptoms of more severe and chronic diseases. Either way, joint pain is uncomfortable and distracting.

Seemingly on the other end of the health spectrum, another common ailment plagues millions each year (via the Cleveland Clinic). Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects 15% to 20% of the United States population. Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to particles in the air called allergens, hence the term allergies. Allergies, too, are uncomfortable and distracting but commonly known to have a completely different set of symptoms. Is there a link between these two health conditions?

Allergies cause inflammation

An allergic reaction is when the body's immune system responds to exposure to a substance like pollen, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The result is inflammation due to the immune system being triggered and sending a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes inflammation in the areas affected by the pollen to try and eject it. The result includes stuffiness, sneezing, headaches, sinus pain, and coughing.

Similarly, joint pain is often caused by inflammation, reports Healthline. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain. There are two types, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation, pain, and fluid buildup around the joints due to the immune system attacking the membrane. Osteoarthritis causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness around the joint due to wear over time (via Mayo Clinic).

We know when the immune system is triggered, it creates and sends increased histamine and increases inflammation (per Cleveland Clinic). So if there was even an unnoticeable amount of inflammation in a joint, this overall increase may push it to a noticeable level. A 2015 study found that patients with at least one allergy had an increased risk of developing RA. It concludes that the inflammatory response is the underlying cause linking allergies and arthritis. Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates likewise concurs that seasonal allergies can cause back, neck, and joint pain due to the inflammation they trigger. So next time allergies flare up, treating them may also help to prevent unexpected aching in your joints.