Coffee & Arthritis

Coffee has become synonymous with mornings for many people. Whether it’s the burst of energy from the caffeine or just the smell of the brewing pot, coffee signals the start of the day. When you have arthritis, coffee can have a different meaning. Coffee may by a necessity--or a hindrance--to your daily life.

Pain Levels

A few studies, including one by kinesiology professor Robert Motl at the University of Illinois, showed caffeine as helpful to alleviating the pain of exercise. Coffee drinkers who consumed three to four cups a day felt less pain from their workouts. The conclusion was that the caffeine works on part of the brain and spinal cord that processes pain, one of the most prevalent symptoms of arthritis.

Gout Preventative

Gout, a form of arthritis, may be prevented by the consumption of coffee 12. Johns Hopkins reports that a study conducted in Canada of more than 14,000 participants showed a reduced risk of gout for those who consumed coffee. The men and women in the study drank at least four cups a day and cut their chance of getting the disease in half. Though the benefit was a bit better for those drinking caffeinated coffee, those having decaffeinated also lowered their risk of gout.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

Doctors at Helsinki’s National Public Health Institute concluded that excess coffee consumption--at least 11 cups a day--could increase a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis 12. Similar findings were obtained in the Nurses Health Study. The National Institutes of Health examined findings on rheumatoid arthritis and coffee and concluded that the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis from drinking coffee was low 12.


There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when considering coffee consumption if you have arthritis. If sleep is a problem, consuming caffeine may interfere with sleep patterns. It can also affect energy levels. Though the beverage makes you feel more awake at first, levels drop when it wears off. In addition, there may be interaction between certain drugs and coffee. Discuss with a health-care professional whether or not coffee may affect your arthritis 1.

Role of Caffeine

The effect that coffee has on arthritis can be directly related to caffeine levels. With the exception of gout, most of the research does not show harm or help from the actual coffee bean itself. This would mean that other caffeinated items--such as tea and chocolate--would have the same effects on arthritis as coffee does. If your doctor tells you to eliminate coffee from your diet, question the need to avoid other caffeinated beverages.