Does Milk Cause Inflammation In The Joints?

Inflammation is a natural immune system response to injury, infection, or irritant that may occur in any part of the body.

Joint inflammation is a common occurrence among those who play sports or are highly active and those with conditions such as arthritis.

Does Milk Cause Inflammation In The Joints?

Not only does joint inflammation cause pain to those experiencing it but it can also severely limit their movements and ability to get on with their daily activities.

Therefore, learning about different irritants and causes of a flare-up is important to those that suffer from more long-term cases.

In this article, learn if milk causes inflammation in the joints and how to avoid causing further irritation.

How Does Our Diet Impact Inflammation?

We are becoming increasingly aware that our gut plays an important role in many inflammatory diseases.

Issues with our gut, or what we put in it may lead to increased inflammation with some of these diseases.

Diets containing saturated fats, processed foods, and refined sugar have been found to have adverse effects on our health, which also includes joint inflammation.

There are some foods that are thought to exacerbate inflammation more than others, such as refined sugar (see also “Erythritol Vs. Stevia: Health Benefits, Calories, And More“) and dairy products.

The Relationship Between Dairy And Inflammation

Research from The Journal of Nutrition found that dairy products can cause low levels of inflammation when tested in a small sample.

Another study found that over 40,000 suffering from osteoarthritis found a link between those that ate more dairy and the number of them that would need a hip replacement.

Casein is a protein found in dairy products and is often slow to digest and is actually the reason that milk is white!

Links have been made between casein and inflammation, although people usually associate allergies to dairy with lactose these can also be caused by casein.


Dairy encompasses a range of food products, when referring specifically to milk there is no hard evidence that cow’s milk impacts joint inflammation.

The real issue is consuming a diet high in saturated fats, which are found in dairy products.

So it may be said that consuming too much milk may lead to increased joint inflammation in some cases.

However, the evidence is mixed and not all scientists agree that dairy products can be linked to joint inflammation.

Some view milk as having beneficial properties that can help to improve the joint health of patients that suffer from certain types of arthritis.

Other Foods That Can Trigger Joint Inflammation

As previously mentioned, arthritis symptoms such as inflammation can be triggered by a poor diet.

There are many things we may be able to consume in moderation, but excessive amounts can cause a flare-up and lead to a lot of pain.

Avoid consuming too much of these foods:

  • Red meat
  • Processed foods
  • Fried foods
  • Dairy products
  • Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Carbonated drinks such as sugary soda drinks

How To Treat Joint Inflammation?

How To Treat Joint Inflammation?

There are different ways to treat different causes of joint inflammation.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications can be a great way to help ease the pain of any cause of joint inflammation. Examples of this include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Reducing your stress levels is easier said than done, but this can be an effective way to combat inflammation.

A number of studies have found that stress acts as a marker for inflammation in the body which can exacerbate a number of chronic conditions such as joint inflammation (see also “The Joints: How Many Are There In The Human Body?“).


When playing sports or experiencing injury for another reason, the best way to help soothe the pain caused by joint inflammation is to follow the RICE principle.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

This method helps to reduce any pain and swelling caused and is easy to administer to yourself or someone else that is hurt.


With conditions such as arthritis, low-impact movement can help to reduce inflammation when conducted on a regular basis.

Working with a doctor or physiotherapist can help to produce a plan that will work best for you.

So, Does Milk Cause Joint Inflammation?

With the amount of evidence for and against this argument, it is difficult to say whether or not milk can definitely cause inflammation of the joints (see also “Why Do My Joints Crack All The Time?“).

As everyone is different and reacts to foods in different ways, some may find increased inflammation after consuming milk and some may not.

If you personally notice joints becoming irritated after consuming milk then try switching to a non-dairy alternative to see if this makes a difference.

Luckily, the rise in the vegan movement over the last few years has significantly increased the number of options available.

Everything from soy milk to oat milk can be found on grocery store shelves.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet refers to the traditional foods eaten in Mediterranean countries such as France, Spain, Greece, and Italy.

These cultures have long been thought of as having healthy populations, including that of their older generations.

Studies have found that people who adopt these diets are much healthier and at a lower risk of developing chronic health conditions than others.

Following this diet is extremely easy and there are no strict ‘rules’, but the diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

These diets often choose fish over meats, which is probably a result of their proximity to a fresh abundance of fish.

Not only does this diet have a positive impact on your health, but it may also reduce the occurrences of joint inflammation you may experience.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the stance you take on this issue, eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if they are aggravating your joint pain can be an effective way to identify if you have any specific triggers.

Some may find that milk causes them joint inflammation whilst others may see an improvement in their joint health.

Clark Ruffington
Latest posts by Clark Ruffington (see all)