Can Probiotics Cause Joint Pain? (this might surprise you!)


Can probiotics cause joint pain

Did you know that according to my latest research on gut health statistics, the secret of youthfulness lies in the gut? Does that mean probiotics can also help us deal with age-related problems such as joint pain and arthritis or do they actually cause joint pain?

I’ve found an interesting news while researching this topic: probiotics don’t cause joint pain. Instead, they can benefit our bodies and even help alleviate joint pain and the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

But it doesn’t end there!

That’s certainly something that surprises so many people, mainly because probiotics are often considered products that are only good for the gut. But plenty of studies have shown that they aren’t just for the gut but also for overall health and even for specific conditions, including joint pains.

Still, you might be wondering whether there’s any chance that probiotics can cause joint pain. Questions on what probiotics are good for joint pain must have also crossed your mind. 

Let’s discuss the answers to these questions below, plus the mechanisms involved in probiotics’ positive impact on joint pain.

Can Probiotics Cause Joint Pain?

Young woman having joint pain

Not really. Probiotics aren’t listed as the common causes of joint pain, and they’re unlikely to cause it.

The only possible way that probiotics can cause joint pain is when you’re allergic to the other ingredients in the supplement (not the probiotic bacteria), and it triggers an inflammatory response in your immune system.

The good news is that this is more likely a very rare situation, and won’t happen to most probiotic takers.

It’s good to remember that at any time you experience side effects, especially serious ones, while taking probiotics, stop immediately and talk to your doctor about it.

According to my research, however, it’s possible that certain gut bacteria (the normal flora in the gut, not from the probiotic supplements) can cause joint pain.

Let’s talk about that in the next section.

Gut-Based Causes Of Joint Pain (Are Probiotics the Culprit?)

Have you heard of the gut-brain axis or the gut-brain connection? That could be one of the reasons why you experience brain fog while taking probiotic supplements.

But it’s actually not just the brain that’s affected. Whatever is happening in the gut can affect the rest of the body – and that includes joint pain. 

Three possible ways that this can happen:

Reason #1. Gut Bacteria (Not Probiotic Supplements) Might Be the Culprit

According to Harvard Medical School immunologist Diane Mathis in a Science.org report, researchers have long suspected that the development of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis could be dependent on the gut microbiota.

The Science.org report also detailed the study conducted by New York University immunologist Dan Littman with human test subjects.

Littman was able to associate one gut bacteria strain, Prevotella copri, as the possible culprit behind rheumatoid arthritis.

Based on the study results, 75% of the patients who were recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (but not yet treated) had Prevotella copri in their gut (determined using fecal samples).

Only 37% of patients who have been living with the condition and receiving regular treatment for years have this gut bacteria. The study found that only 21% of healthy individuals have Prevotella copri in their gut.

It’s possible that the overgrowth of Prevotella copri could trigger joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis.

These recent findings aren’t even new.

Researchers of a 2017 Engineering journal review pointed out gut bacteria, such as Clostridium perfringens, have been recognized as an autoimmune trigger for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis as far back as 1965.

Still, further studies are needed to prove that these gut bacteria are really the culprits.

Reason #2. A leaky Gut Can Trigger Joint Pain (what if probiotics also leak out?)

The lining in our guts contains a barrier that determines which substances (such as nutrients from digested food) are allowed to go into the bloodstream.

But as we grow older or if there are conditions that affect the gut, “holes” will form in the barrier, leading to a leaky gut.

The bad news about having a leaky gut is that the lining can no longer control which substances are allowed to pass through. Instead of toxins being flushed out of the body, they could leak into the bloodstream because of the “leaks” in your gut.

According to Harvard Health, these toxins can trigger inflammation (or immune response) in the gut or other parts of the body, including your joints.

The good news is that even if probiotics are also leaked out of your gut, they’re unlikely to cause inflammation. They might actually help your body deal with the inflammation to help alleviate joint pain triggered by your leaky gut.

Reason #3. Gut Dysbiosis Possibly Leads to Inflammation (can probiotics help?)

Arthritis pain is likely to happen in overworked load-bearing joints like the knees, but a 2020 study published in the journal Current Opinion in Rheumatology points out that it could also happen in non-load-bearing joints, such as elbows and wrists.

The researchers theorized that dysbiosis of the gut microbiome due to bacterial metabolites and other gut issues could be behind systemic inflammation that causes joint pain.

Instead of causing or worsening inflammation, the introduction of probiotics such as Bifidobacterium pseudolongum helped alleviate the symptoms, based on the 2020 study results.

The researchers also cited a related study that used Bifidobacterium longum CBi0703 which was shown to reduce cartilage structural lesions and degradation markers (possible causes of joint pain), providing an overall protective effect on the joints.

More Good News: Probiotics Can Help Alleviate Joint Pain

As mentioned in the 2020 study above, probiotics Bifidobacterium pseudolongum and Bifidobacterium longum CBi0703 can help alleviate joint pain and other arthritis symptoms.

Aside from these studies, others have also found a positive link between probiotics and joint pain. 

Let’s take a look at these scientific studies below:

Studies with Bifidobacteria & Lactobacillus

Researchers of a 2017 Engineering journal review mentioned above also pointed out that Lactobacillus strains have been shown to significantly decrease inflammatory reactions in carrageenan-induced arthritis by down-regulating the pro-inflammatory cytokine pathway.

In short, these probiotic bacteria helped prevent joint inflammation.

Other studies used in this review used different Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains with varying results. But most show promising results of how these strains can prevent and alleviate joint pain.

Still, the 2017 review researchers remain cautious about making conclusions, citing the need for further studies before they can recommend probiotics as a treatment option to relieve the disease progression of arthritis.

Study Shows Yakult’s Effect on Knee Osteoarthritis (type of joint pain)

In another 2017 study and clinical trial published in the journal Beneficial Microbes, researchers used the probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota, a strain used in probiotic drinks such as Yakult, to check its effects on joint pain.

Based on the clinical trial results, Lactobacillus casei Shirota can help reduce pain and inflammatory responses in age-related musculoskeletal disorders such as knee osteoarthritis.

Study subjects showed significant improvement some 6 months after regular intake of this probiotic.

Benefits of Probiotics on Joint Pain

Instead of causing joint pain, it turns out that probiotics can help alleviate your symptoms. 

Here are their primary benefits:

Benefit #1 – Balancing Gut Health to Reduce Inflammatory Arthritis

By balancing gut health, probiotics can help prevent dysbiosis, which could cause inflammation in various parts of your body, including your joints.

The overgrowth of gut bacteria Clostridium perfringens was explained in the 2017 Engineering journal review above as a possible autoimmune trigger for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

So, keeping their numbers in check by using probiotics to balance the gut microbiome might help reduce their symptoms, including joint pain.

Benefit #2 – Modulating The Immune System (Inflammatory Cytokine Production)

Probiotics can help regulate the kinds of cytokines that the immune system produces, the 2017 Engineering journal review further explained.

It appears that probiotics can up-regulate anti-inflammatory cytokine production and down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines.

With lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and higher anti-inflammatory cytokines, there can be a reduction in joint pain caused by inflammation.

Should You Take Probiotics If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Yes. Because probiotics have been shown in different studies and clinical trials to be good for alleviating different kinds of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, then it makes sense that you take them.

But do researchers recommend that? Let’s take a look below.

Probiotics For Treatment of Joint Pain: A Promising Therapy 

In a 2021 study in the Nutrients journal, researchers checked the effects of probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Based on therapeutic and diagnostic reports, these probiotics can have anti-inflammatory benefits on joint pain and help people with rheumatoid arthritis enhance their daily activities and alleviate their symptoms.

They concluded that using probiotic microorganisms could be a potential option for arthritis treatment.

Fermented Food Vs. Probiotics for Joint Pain

Fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, natto, kefir, tempeh, and many kombuchas are known to contain probiotic microorganisms. Yet we’re wondering if they have the same effect as probiotics on joint pain.

Research on this topic was published in another 2021 study in Frontiers in Pharmacology journal.

The study showed that fermented food can, indeed, be a possible alternative to probiotic supplements because they have also been reported to have health benefits.

Choosing Your Probiotics (which ones are best for joint pain)

Probiotics can respond differently in different situations. So, it’s good to pick those that are suitable to the medical condition or issue that you want to address.

The studies mentioned above with positive results relating to joint pain used the following probiotics:

  • Bifidobacteria
  • Lactobacillus (Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus)
  • Bacillus coagulans

So, in choosing your probiotic supplement for joint pain, look for these strains on the label.

The Best Probiotic Supplements for Joint Pain

These probiotics can boost immunity and balance gut health. So, they can also help with joint pain as shown in the studies and clinical trials I mentioned above

1. Azma Biotech Advanced Pro-Relief Joint Probiotics Synbiotics

This probiotic is specially designed to target joint pain. It contains the following strains:

  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus reuteri

2. Ombre Ultimate Immunity

This probiotic can help control inflammation that can suppress immunity to reduce joint pain. It contains the following strains:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum, strains KABP-022, KABP-023, KABP-33, and DR7
  • Pediococcus acidilactici 

3. Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8

This probiotic for men can also help strengthen immunity to help prevent inflammation. It contains 10 probiotic strains:

  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

4. YourBiology Gut+

This probiotic is also good at strengthening immunity and preventing inflammation in your gut and joints. It has the following probiotic strains:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Bifidobacterium lactis

Conclusion

After reading this blog post, you now know that probiotics don’t cause joint pain. Instead, they can actually help alleviate the symptoms of joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Probiotics work by reducing inflammation in the body, which is a common symptom of both joint pain and RA.

If you’re struggling with either of these conditions, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your daily routine. Have you tried using probiotics for joint pain or RA?

Brenda L. Mosley

Hi, Brenda here, I have been a health advocate and writer with 10 years of experience in health and nutrition. I also hold a BS in Nutrition Science and am based in Massachusetts with my family. My mission is to impact the world using my health and nutrition experience by sharing, writing, and educating on the internet - and offline too when possible. When I'm not busy writing or engaging in health forums and groups - you'll find me spending time with my 3 kids, eating, or reading literary fiction books.

Recent Posts