Can food allergies cause joint pain?

While we usually think of allergies causing symptoms like itchiness, coughing and sneezing, they can also cause all kinds of other, less well-known symptoms. One of these is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or inflammation, swelling and pain in the joints. Although it usually occurs in the hands, RA can affect any of the joints in the body, and it can affect children as well as adults.

RA is an autoimmune condition and is generally treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, which offer temporary relief but do not cure the condition. Food allergies are a reaction of the immune system, which incorrectly identifies the foods as harmful to the body and tries to fight them off. If an allergic reaction causes RA, then removing the allergen and treating the allergy should cure the RA. This goes for undefined joint pains as well, even if they're not classified as RA.

If you notice that joint pain begins within a day of eating a particular food and then goes away until the next time you eat the food, you may have a food allergy. Other, more common food allergy symptoms include swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If you suspect you have a food allergy, see an allergist for a diagnosis. Your doctor may do a skin prick test, applying a small amount of the allergen to a scratch on the skin of your arm or back and watching for a reaction. He may also do an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) test to check for antibodies in your blood. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your symptoms but the best treatment for allergies is to prevent symptoms by staying away from the foods you're allergic to. If you have a severe allergy that might cause anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction), your doctor may give you epinephrine to keep with you at all times.