Coffee & Tea
December 13, 2022

Is Coffee Bad for Arthritis? Here’s How Caffeine Affects Joints

Have you been getting painful joint swellings recently? Check out if caffeine might be the culprit when you learn the answer to “Is coffee bad for arthritis?”

Dan Doughty
Table of Contents:

Saying goodbye to your favorite morning cup of coffee can be difficult. But is it worth it if it might improve arthritis? There are mixed opinions about whether coffee can worsen or improve joint inflammation for people diagnosed with arthritis, which can be pretty confusing. So, is coffee bad for arthritis? 

The short answer is yes and no. Coffee can act as an anti-inflammatory substance and reduce the symptoms of arthritis. But it can also act as a pro-inflammatory substance and cause joint pain. In short, it varies from one person to another. 

We’ve delved into more details about the link between different types of arthritis and coffee, so keep reading to learn more!

Can Caffeine Cause Joint Pain?

If you have joint issues, one question that might pop into your mind is, “does coffee cause inflammation in joints?” 

The answer to this question isn’t that simple because it depends on several factors like how much coffee you consume, the type of arthritis, and whether you drink decaf or regular coffee. 

When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, research says that consuming too much coffee might increase their risk. The reason for that isn’t clear, but there are a couple of explanations. 

First, caffeine might inflame the nerves and muscles in the upper spine, which might lead to joint pain and tension in the area. 

Second, since caffeine can keep you awake at night, you might experience joint pain when you wake up. 

Third, caffeine can increase cortisol levels, which are responsible for regulating stress. As a result, insulin blood levels might increase, leading to joint stiffness and inflammation. 

Conversely, caffeine might reduce the risk for other arthritis types due to its anti-inflammatory factors, according to another study

As for decaf coffee, there are conflicting research studies about it. It has anti-inflammatory properties like coffee, so it might reduce inflammation for some types of arthritis. However, there are also studies that report it might increase the risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

How Coffee Affects Arthritis

Now, you know that coffee can positively or negatively affect arthritis. Below, we’ll delve into more details about the correlation between different types of arthritis and coffee.

Coffee and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Several studies report that coffee might increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. For example, some studies showed that it increases seropositive RA for coffee drinkers, which is a type of protein that leads to exacerbated symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Also, five other studies said that you increase the risk of developing RA by 11% for each extra cup of decaf coffee that you drink per day. 

This might mean that the decaffeinating process is the culprit because toxic chemicals such as methylene chloride are sometimes used to remove caffeine from coffee beans.

In the end, if you have RA, you should limit your intake to four cups of coffee (400 mg of caffeine) per day, which is the recommended daily intake for adults.

You should also keep in mind that sugar has inflammatory properties that can aggravate RA, so always be mindful of how much sugar you add to your coffee.

Another piece of advice for added comfort while drinking your daily cup of coffee: get suitable coffee cups for arthritic hands. They’ll make it easier for you to grip them and enjoy drinking without feeling pain.

Coffee and Osteoarthritis

According to a study, coffee can reduce the growth rate of bones and joint cartilage. Thus, it might increase the risk for osteoarthritis, which is the “wearing down” of joints. 

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to coffee. You aren’t at risk as long as you drink it in moderation (less than four cups).

Coffee and Psoriatic Arthritis

Most studies say that drinking coffee doesn’t affect psoriatic arthritis—a condition that affects people who have psoriasis. But since coffee has anti-inflammatory factors, it might alleviate joint pain and reduce inflammation. 

However, other studies concluded that coffee might aggravate joint inflammation. So, it all depends on how your body will react to it.

If you’re diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, we recommend that you cut off coffee for a while and notice if your symptoms have worsened or improved. 

If you noticed an improvement in symptoms, then it means coffee reacted as an inflammatory substance. In this case, it’s better to eliminate it from your diet. But if it’s the other way around or you didn’t notice any difference, then you can drink coffee moderately.

Coffee and Gout

There’s a big study that gathered around 46,000 people and made some of them drink four or five cups of coffee daily. The researchers noticed that the ones who drank the coffee reduced the risk for gout—one of the most painful arthritis conditions—by a whopping 40%. 

One possible explanation is that antioxidants like chlorogenic acid that are found in coffee lower the risk for this type of arthritis because they reduce insulin blood levels. Thus, uric acid levels go down too. 

And since high uric acid levels have been proven to increase the risk for gout, lowering their levels will do the opposite. 

The study also concluded that even decaf coffee could reduce the risk for the condition, but not as much as regular coffee. 

However, even though coffee reduces the risk of gout, some studies show that it can worsen the symptoms for people already diagnosed with the condition, especially if they drink coffee occasionally. 

For example, one study concluded that people who drank more cups of coffee than usual triggered more gout attacks. This is because caffeine has a similar chemical structure to allopurinol, which is a medication for gout. 

People are more prone to gout attacks when they start taking allopurinol, but this lessens once their bodies get used to the drug. Consequently, coffee behaves the same way. But it’s important to note that the amount of sugar added in the coffee might be related to gout, too, so further research is still needed. 

In the end, if you’re diagnosed with gout, changing how much coffee you drink won’t make much difference. A better solution is to take medications to treat it and restrict foods that trigger gout attacks.

Does Caffeine React With Rheumatoid Medications?

Like any other substance, caffeine has chemicals that can interact with certain rheumatoid arthritis medications. For instance, methotrexate is an immunosuppressant that’s often used to treat RA. It has side effects such as stomachaches, restlessness, and confusion. 

But studies found that coffee can reduce some of the drug’s severe side effects for 80% of RA patients. This is great news because this drug’s known as intolerable for many people. 

Steroids such as prednisolone are medications that get prescribed for people diagnosed with RA too. These drugs might make you feel alert as a side effect, so drinking coffee might make it worse due to the stimulating caffeine content.

That’s why you should consult your doctor about how much coffee to drink if you take any steroid medications. 

Is Coffee Good for Arthritis?

After knowing that there’s mixed research about coffee and arthritis, you might ask yourself, “Is caffeine bad for arthritis?”

Coffee can alleviate arthritis symptoms or make them worse; it entirely depends on how it reacts with your body. 

But if you drink it in moderation and limit the amount of sugar added to each cup, there won’t be any noticeable effects on the disease. And don’t forget to consult your doctor if you’re diagnosed with any type of arthritis to err on the side of caution.

5 Habits to Manage Arthritis

The best way to manage arthritis daily is to make certain lifestyle modifications that’ll lessen the symptoms. Below, we’ve outlined some of them. 

1. Move Your Body

Exercising is known for its general benefits to our health, but did you know that it can improve arthritis? This is because it helps you lose excess weight, which reduces tension and stress on your joints. It also helps you develop strong muscles to support them. 

Even if you currently struggle with a flare-up, you can try low-impact exercises such as yoga, hiking, walking, and swimming. 

However, it’s important to note that strenuous exercises such as HIIT workouts can aggravate joint pain.

2. Try Meditation

This one might surprise you, but meditation can reduce your overall stress levels. As a result, it may lessen your arthritis symptoms. This is because a study found that lowering stress may reduce inflammation in the body. So, try to incorporate a quick 5-minute meditation into your daily routine.

3. Change Your Diet 

Modifying your diet to make it healthier can vastly reduce arthritis flare-ups and improve your quality of life. For example, adding whole food, veggies, fatty fish, and fruits to your diet can reduce inflammation and strengthen your immunity. 

Conversely, eating junk food and sweetened products regularly can increase inflammation and worsen joint pain. Plus, you’re more likely to gain weight and put too much load on your joints.

4. Get to a Healthy Weight

If you’re overweight, losing excess weight is one of the best ways to manage arthritis. This is because it can protect your joints from further wear and improve your flexibility. That’s why we recommend that you consult your doctor and nutritionist to make a fitness plan that’ll help you achieve a healthy weight.

5. Try Physical Therapy

If you can’t manage arthritis with medications, perhaps you should go to a physical therapist to teach you movements that’ll reduce joint pain and stiffness. They might even recommend assistive devices and products such as knee braces.


Is Tea Good for Arthritis?

Yes. Most studies done on the link between tea and arthritis concluded that it’s an excellent beverage for people diagnosed with the condition. This is because tea has antioxidants that strengthen your immunity. 

Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce arthritis flare-ups. So you can enjoy your tea with no worries about triggering a flare-up. 

Is Sugar Bad for Arthritis?

Unfortunately, yes. Lots of studies found that added sugar can increase arthritis flare-ups. So, you should be cautious about how much sugar you consume daily. And if possible, try to restrict it from your diet.

Does Alcohol Affect Arthritis?

Yes. Studies found that alcohol has inflammatory properties that might worsen arthritis, especially gout. Plus, it might increase the risk of osteoarthritis if you drink it in excess.

What Causes Arthritis to Flare Up?

There are some factors and habits that can aggravate arthritis. For example, junk and sweetened foods such as french fries or candy can increase joint inflammation. 

Also, doing intense workouts can worsen the symptoms because they put pressure on your joints. And even weather changes such as humidity can aggravate the condition.

Final Verdict

Does coffee affect arthritis? The short answer is that coffee can worsen or lessen the symptoms of arthritis if you don’t drink it in moderation. 

It all depends on the arthritis type and how your body reacts to coffee. For instance, some studies found that coffee might increase the risk for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis because it acts as a pro-inflammatory substance in the body. 

However, other studies showed that it might reduce the risk of gout. But irregular drinking of coffee might worsen the symptoms for people who already have gout. 

Overall, you shouldn’t drink more than four cups of coffee per day to prevent the possibility of worsening the condition!

About the author
Dan Doughty
Dan Doughty is the founder of Dripshipper. In operation since 2018, Dripshipper has helped thousands of merchants start a private label coffee brand and supply coffee to their customers.

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