Can Lack Of Vitamin B12 Cause Arthritis?

Can Lack Of Vitamin B12 Cause Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints that leads to symptoms of pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased joint mobility. It usually happens due to deterioration of cartilage that prevents friction between bones in the joints. The different types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis and infectious arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly associated with anemia. Although, lack of vitamin B12 does not cause arthritis, it surely may worsen anemia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Can Lack Of Vitamin B12 Cause Arthritis?

The Correlation Between Vitamin B12 and Arthritis

Vitamin B12 deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are commonly seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin B12 may also be responsible for prevention of inflammation in joints by inhibition of immune cells responsible for inflammatory reactions. Rheumatoid arthritis patients may also experience anemia due to gastrointestinal bleeding caused by chronic use of NSAIDs to treat chronic pain and inflammation. Vitamin B12 is responsible for the prevention of anemia because it is responsible for the production and maturation of healthy red blood cells in bone marrow. It is also responsible for the formation of myelin sheath (the protective covering of nerve fibers) and also in the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that help in the transmission of nerve signals between cells).

Causes and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by alcoholism, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, pernicious anemia, digestive disorders, parasitic infections, bariatric surgery and medications. It can also be caused due to poor diet, malnutrition and following a strict vegetarian diet.

The deficiency of vitamin B12 affects nervous system, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system as well as bone health. The deficiency symptoms include weakness, numbness, tingling, dizziness, memory loss, depression, balance problems, confusion, dementia, fatigue, palpitations, tachycardia, shortness of breath, nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, soreness and redness in tongue with loss of papillae, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, irritability, and/or vision loss.

Symptoms and Treatment of Arthritis

Patients with arthritis experience classic symptoms of inflammation including joint pain, swelling, redness of the skin around the joint, reduced mobility of the joint, joint stiffness and warmth around the joint. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may also mimic symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency such as paresthesias in the extremities, loss of fine motor skills, muscle weakness, problem walking and joint pain and inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis usually have no cure, and the treatment is aimed at reducing the symptoms of pain and preventing the disability as far and as long as possible. After reaching a definitive diagnosis, the treatment is started. It is treated by reducing pain with the prescription of anti-inflammatories and analgesics (pain medications) such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. If non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not effective in relieving pain and inflammation or if the symptoms are severe then corticosteroids are used, either in the pill form or in injection form, to relieve the symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

As some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and vitamin B12 deficiency overlap, it is imperative to diagnose this condition correctly, as there is a greater chance for it to be misdiagnosed. The definitive diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency includes serum homocysteine and methylmalonic acid levels, as they are considered more reliable than vitamin B12 blood concentration.

After a definitive diagnosis of vitamin B12, patients can either be treated with vitamin B12 supplements in the form of capsules, sublinguals, nasal sprays or injections. Injections are administered either intramuscularly or subcutaneously; they are required in severe vitamin B12 deficiency and stomach disorders that prevent complete absorption of vitamin through food.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be prevented by taking a healthy diet rich in animal foods such as fish, meat, poultry, milk, cheese and other dairy products. As vitamin B12 is found only in animal sources, strict vegetarians and vegans should consume diet and foods fortified with vitamin B12 such as vecon veg stock, textured veg protein, soya milk, veg and sunflower margarines and breakfast cereals.

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