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Thursday, January 6, 2011

antihistamines and arthritis?

After I went off prednisone I expected the stiffness in my knees to return. But it didn't. I have been taking a generic version of Zyrtec for a rash, and it seems to be having an effect on inflammation. I have never heard of this happening, of antihistamines being helpful for arthritic inflammation.

I have done a couple of quick searches online for any connection between relief of osteoarthritis and the use of antihistamines. I found a few studies that suggest that maybe there is an anti-inflammatory effect, but these studies referred to rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, I think it's an interesting connection and will be looking further into it.

Not to say that I feel great and I can walk miles. I can't. I still have pain in my hip and the stiffness is not entirely gone. Also, the damage that has been done results in different types of discomfort at different times.  However, in general I can sit for a bit and get up again without experiencing great pain.  A nice effect.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Judith,
i just experienced something similar. I twisted my knee 3 weeks ago and agreed with my doctor to wait 2 weeks to see how it goes before we do an MRI. The pain got worse and worse (meniscus like pain). I also currently have a maxillary sinusitis that doesn't want to go away and some annoying light allergy in my face. Three days ago I decided to give antihistamines a try for the sinus and the light allergy. No effect on those so far, but - to my utter surprise - my knee pain is totally gone.
I am usually quite a histaminergic person, insect stings get really big and I have some physical urticaria when I jog in the cold, maybe that plays a role, too.

katherine said...

Hi Judith,
Very interesting to read your blog.
I have been able to go off 1200 mg/day of Ibuprofen for my osteoarthritis since starting Zyrtec for my seasonal allergies! What a nice surprise. --Katherine

amybrooks said...

I have eye alergy where my tear ducts get swollen and painfull and alergic conjuntiviitis. Also have osteoarthritis in my thumbs with tendinitis. While I worked I took 800 mg/per day and stopped since unemployed. My family convinced me to start taking an antihistamine for my eyes and noticed a big reduction in the pain in my thumbs. I tried zyrtec first which worked really well but made me very sleepy all day. So I tried generic allegra. Allegra doesn't work as well for my eyes but it helps. This morning I realized how much it helps my arthritis. My first thought was I was getting RA, but after reading your blog I guess it just helps osteo. Do you all agree? Nest DR appt will have it retested though.

Harriet said...

I did a Google search today as I, too, have inadvertently found that antihistamines have helped my osteoarthritis. I have OA in my spine, particularly neck and lumbar and the pain would always wake me after about 4 hours. Taking NSAIDs or paracetomol tended to exacerbate my migraines [!] so I was having to avoid this except when the pain was really bad, although the relief was only ever short-term and not adequate to prevent pain at night waking me. Then I found that 10mls of Benylin Expectorant original - originally taken purely because I had a cold/secondary chest infection - helped me to sleep, and I sometimes used it purely for this purpose when I was in a lot of pain. It seemed ridiculous to use a cough treatment in this way so I looked at what the ingredient was that caused the drowsiness, an antihistamine called diphenhydramine hydrochloride. This I found available as a sleep aid in Boots's Sleepeaze tablets [& Nytol]. The recommended dose of this for sleep is 2 x 25 mg tabs. 10mls of Benylin gave me 28mg of diphenhydramine hydrochloride so I reckoned one was enough but actually only took half a tab - around 12mg. Even this tiny dose helped my sleep... BUT I also found that I was not stiff on waking and my back pain was not just reduced but reduced a lot, also the OA pain in my knees.Initially I thought this must be because of some other reason... but it has continued to be the case over some time. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but according to your blog several of us have experienced it & I will be referring it to my GP & consultant. It has made a huge difference to the quality of my life as this reduction of pain, stiffness has meant my sleep is massively improved & I cope much better all round. Although it would be brilliant to discover such a cheap and effective treatment for OA [!] I am also going to check the possible side effects - its use is contraindicated in those with glaucoma, prostrate problems, arrhythmias & other heart problems, etc. - so as with any medication, caution & checking with your doctor is important.

eversley said...

one half tablet of antihistamine for eyes and rashes also helps me sleep and wake without stiffness in the morning.
I thought I'd found a breakthrough myself!
But glad to have you all confirm it!!
Now is it bad to use it all the time?

Anonymous said...

Allergy season has arrived in DC what with the cherry blossoms and such AND yes, my knee and hip pain due to OA is exceptionally improved when I take allergy medication. I have mentioned this to several physicians over the years and have had it dismissed. Since my allergies are getting to be pretty significant, with sunlight rashes, as well as rashes on the feet, I will be consulting with the allergist before I go back to the orthopedist or rheumatologist. Just a note - I have also had thinning hair with taking prolonged OTC allergy meds.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I just found this website after searching "fexofenadine arthritis link". Since I have recently developed seasonal allergies, I have succumbed to taking seasonal allergy medicine for a few weeks each year. I have arthritis symptoms/general inflammation in various joints and noticed a marked improvement since taking 1 tab of Allegra each day. Doesn't help the allergy symptoms much, but general inflammation and pain is noticeably improved. There is a recent RA study that shows that high histamine levels near joint capillaries (in particular) makes them more permeable...to say antibodies that could cause joint tissue damage. Could higher than normal histamine levels in general be responsible for all kinds of inflammatory diseases? I hope it is safe to take these gen 2 antihistamines for a while since I may continue after allergy season. If this is true, it would be a "treatment" that might prevent instead of simply treat the effects of over-inflammation. -- Kurt

Kirsten Woods said...

I had osteoarthritis when I was a teen. I've tried different painkillers and antihistamines but it didn't work for me. I tried physical therapy but there was no effect so my parents have decided to sent me to an orthopedic surgeon (Dr Purita) and had stem cell treatment. The therapy was great and I could say that it was successful. it has been years now and my knees are still in good shape. No more signs of OA...

Anonymous said...

I have tried everything for arthritis, lumbar disc and post hip surgery pain ....literally. A couple nights ago I took a generic antihistamine (4 mg chlorpheniramine maleate) at bedtime to test my own (I thought) theory about histamine being an issue. It helped me sleep and greatly reduce my pain more than anything else I have tried!

Anonymous said...

Me, too.

I recently discovered, by accident, that Benedryl gives me as much relief from my back pain as just about anything. Just this week I found out my back pain is from osteoarthritis. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I've had osteoarthritis in my lower back for a number of years. I manage it with exercise, stretching, physical therapy, heat, etc. Got into some redbugs not too long ago, and took some Benedryl (diphenhydramine) for relief from itching so I could sleep. Was surprised to find my back wasn't as stiff next morning. Tried it twice more, in the next few weeks. Same thing---stiffness and back pain much improved. Two of my doctors--a neurologist and a spine specialist--- said they'd never heard of getting back pain relief from over-the-counter antihistamines. Me, I'm not looking a gift-horse in the mouth. 25 mg of Benedryl several times a week sure beats stomach-eating aspirin or other NSAIDs every night. I figure the longer I can hold off on taking more serious drugs to manage this disease, the better.

Anonymous said...

I'm a newby to the whole arthritis thing. I'm 50 now and 7 months ago got hit with dequarvein's in both wrists. for 7 months now, there has been pain and swelling in both wrist and thumb joints. Of course the Orthopedic doc just shoots me up with corizone (which lasts only a few weeks). I type alot at work so it's been hard. Have tried every type of NSAID with no relief. I had an epiphany the other night to take Benedryl. I was in so much pain, curled up. But, 15 minutes after taking the Benedryl, my symptoms were relieved. Haven't had that in months. I took Benedryl for 3 days but had to stop, i was so drowsy all the time.

Anonymous said...

As a continuation of my previous "benedry" comment, I'm adding that because of the drowsiness of taking the pill, I switched to the Benedryl creme. I just rub it on my wrist and thumbs. There's a 2% solution of the medicine that will sink in and so far (knock on wood) it's helping. I only made the "histimine/arthritis connection" by pure luck.. good luck to u all!

Anonymous said...

I've been battling dequarveins for 7 months now. It's constant inflammation attacking my wrists and thumbs daily. I type at work so it's very difficult. I was in so much pain last 5 days ago, I was curled up and stayed on the couch most of the time. I had some epiphany about benedryl. I took it and 15 minutes later the pain finally went away. I never had this condition before so i never saw a endo or ra dr. I've been to an orthopedic only who just wants to give me shots and surgery. I switched to zyrtec because benedryl made me too sleepy. I hope this helps someone!

Berga Tiesa said...

It is a very nice surprise to find out that other pain sufferers benefit too from the use of antihistamines! In my case I started with a terrible pain in my right ankle, and nothing seemed to work. Then I researched different creams and gels for external use, and started laughing when I found an Australian cream for arthritis pain with an antihistamine as the main ingredient. How could an antihistamine work on pain! Then, because the pain was so intense that woke me up at night, I finally took 500 mg acetaminophen PM, with added 25 mg Diphenhydramine HCL, a sleep aid which is also an antihistamine, and not only I slept like a baby I woke up pain free and able to walk during the day pain free. I also mentioned it to my doctor and his answer was: "imposible!". Well, judging by all of the other commentaries and my personal experience I could say: "I don't think so!"

Julie Mercier said...

I am being evaluated for arthritis, so I do not yet know which type I have. It occurred to me that last fall when I took Zyrtec daily, I did not notice many episodes of morning joint pain. Lately I've been in pain daily, so I thought I'd try taking it again to see if the pattern was imagined. Much to my relief, on the days I've taken Generic Zyrtec before bed, my pain and swelling has been greatly reduced! Without it, I wake up with that lovely feeling of having been steamrolled. I am 38. Not looking forward to a lifetime of pain.

Anonymous said...

I have recently have same experiences. Firstly, after taking antihistamine for a sinusitis, I slept extremely well and deeply and woke up refreshed before the clock rang. It has been several years since that has happened. I have been very tired waking up even after sleeping 8 to even 12 hours.
Secondly, I noticed the pains I have went away. First I thought this has something to do with the better, i.e. relaxed quality of the sleep. But after having a break with taking the antihistamine and then taking it in the morning I noticed the pain goes away during the day already. I'm able to walk without "noticing my legs". My pain is just mild to moderate but enough to make me walk slowly.
The problem however, with taking the antihistamine is that I notice how painful my being has been and how much it really affects me. I don't like taking drugs and it goes for antihistamine too. And what if and when the effect wears off? What if my condition worsens over the years and then there is no help because I would have used the pain killing options already at this stage with only moderate pains?

What experiences have you had? Have you used antihistamine now for a longer period? Does the pain killing effect diminish as the body gets used to antihistamine?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to mention in my previous text, I have been taking desloratadine which is H1 antagonist. The drug I take is NOT a combination of antihistamine and a painkiller. Just to make clear for anyone with professional medical interest that the pain killing effect seems really to be credited to the antihistamine.

The pain killing is more effective that paracematol, which I have taken sometime although very seldom. Antihistamine effect lasts longer, paracetamol only about four to six hours. Paracetamol does however seem to have a better effect on my neck and lower back pain than antihistamine.

And I noticed the pain killing effect of antihistamine before I read about it in the internet. It is only afterwards that I went for a search for a clarification. So it is not about a pseudo effect either. ; )

I don't have a diagnosis for my pains. I have not seen a doctor about them. Might now go for an appointment that I have realised, with the help of antihistamines, how pain free and thus easier even walking can be. Certainly something is wrong with me. However, I anticipate that the doctor will laugh me out of the room when I tell him/her that antihistamines have helped the pain.

Kindly note I don't advise or suggest anyone to start taking antihistamines or any other medications without consulting a doctor.

Anonymous said...

Sara age 33 mother of 2
Thanks every one. i have felt the same thing taking antihistamine helped morning stiffness in may hand i was thinking to see a doc and had this sinus so i took one tablet at night in the morning i feel a lot better in my fingers. I couldnt believe it and when i searched on web i found this blog thanks for feeling the same way

Barbara Johnson said...

I had the same experience. 2 mg antihistamines before bed and I have very little osteoarthritis pain. I started taking them for allergies to be able to sleep at night. I asked the doctors about this and they didn't know. I quit the pain pills and the ibuprofen.

Barbara Johnson said...

I had the same experience of taking antihistamines for allergies. It lowered the osteoarthritis pain down to almost nothing.

Anonymous said...

My OA left lumbar spine/hip/knee tends to flare with physical work - yard work, lifting, raking, mowing. Started taking Zyrtec and noticed NO paid while spreading mulch around landscaping. In passing thought I connected allergy w/autoimmune and reducing OA inflammation. But when I missed a Zyrtec one day, the night OA pain prevented me from sleeping. For me this proved Zyrtec definitely helps my OA pain. This is not scientific but I'll keep taking Zyrtec along with daily 400 mg ibuprophen and Nsaid.

Anonymous said...

I have taken Benadryl(diphenhydramine hydrochloride)off and on for a few years to help me sleep due to Fibromyalgia. In the past year, my joints have been incredibly sore, along with tendons, ligaments, muscles due to Fibro and OA flares. Recently, I took it for a mild cold so I could sleep. Then I took Nyquil a few nights instead. To my surprise, my pain level all over was significantly better when I got out of bed in the morning. I can't take Benadryl during the day because it makes me drowsy, but it sure helps for the nights and mornings. Histamines are part of the cascade of inflammatory agents that pour out in response to a trigger. We are so used to treating these with steroids and NSAIDS, overlooking the histamine component. It helps quell part of the inflammation. Yea!

Anonymous said...

I have osteoarthritis in the shoulder and in both knees. Two days ago, I took some ibuprofen plus diphenhydramine to sleep better. Wow??? This reduced my pain more then I have experienced in a long time. I am an immunologist and was shocked to learn that this would reduce the inflammation. But, it did, so I am now going to start experimenting with Zyretec.

Anonymous said...

I also have been struggling with various arthritic symptoms, dequervain's tenosynovitis, Achilles tendon sorenes, degenerative disc disease, etc. I started on a low histamine diet and take one allegra during the day since it doesn't make me drowsy and one Benadryl at night, because it does make sleepy. I wake up feeling refreshed and not stiff or sore. I cannot take NSAIDs as they bother my stomach. Such a great find.

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog, and just have to add my experience. I have mild arthritis along my spine, and paint in several joints, especially my elbows. It is especially bad during the winter. Also, the last few years I seem to have continuous colds, sore throat, etc. I never did go in for allergy tests, but a couple months ago, suspecting allergies, I started taking Benadryl every day. Maybe it's a coincidence, and I wasn't destined to get any colds, but I'm yet to have any semblene of a cold. And, my joint pain is practically non existent. I plan to keep taking the Benadryl, but will also research any affects of taking it long term.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered with sever migraines and stiff shoulders since I was a child. In this last year I was diagnosis with moderate arthritis and herniated disks in my cervical spine. I suffer from numbness and pain in my arms but at time have trouble with walking and balance. I have done a lot of internet research and examined the idea of histamine intolerance as the underling cause of arthritis. I decided to try claratine 12h daytime. It had a huge effect on my symptoms. I have more energy and less pain for sure. Since I first notice the benefit I have tried it several time and it definitely helps me. I have since started a histamine reduced diet and this too seems to help. I have kept a food journal now for several months and discovered that I'm highly sensitive to all nuts and seeds, wine, onion and strong cheeses. I would also like to add that my diet has been very high in sugar and some regular but moderate caffeine. I am now trying to eliminate them. I hope this adds a little more to the puzzle. Good luck everyone. If anyone is interested in doing an informal group study please contact me. I really think we are on to something and want to take it further. Suecharlebois@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

No doubt claritin decreases joint stiffness for me.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1030434/

Sue Millard said...

I have noticed this effect too, a tiny dose of Piriton syrup once a day, originally for mild hay fever, seems to relieve OA pain (I have one replaced hip and knee, and the other side now has a lot more wear than those did when replaced 6/7 years ago). I found this blog by searching on "cetyrizine hydrochloride for arthritis". During the search I learned that some people attribute RA to taking it, and that surprised me - because I do think I feel relief when taking even this small amount.

Mick IsSick said...

Boy, oh boy, it took me so long to arrive at the conclusion that antihistamines work for my joint pain (and other symptoms).
Initially taking antihistamine (Zyrtec) helped already in 2008. Then in 2012 I wanted to test that idea again as I experienced a flare up. Unfortunately at the pharmacy they gave me loratidine instead of cetirizine (Zyrtec) and it did not work at all.
I assumed that all antihistamines work the same way and that they do not work for me. That provided me with two years of extreme suffering that no doctor could help. And most of the time they were not even gonna try to treat my problems as there were no visible signs (like antibodies etc.). And there are so many symptoms seemingly unconnected... Three days ago I started to take Zyrtec and it worked like a charm for the joints but it makes me extremely sleepy and today is the first day that I am on Allegra. Looks like it is working too. Even if it does not work as well there are a few other antihistamines, especially Benadryl taken at night. I am also wondering if it is allowed to take a few different kinds of antihistamines at once. I am also wondering if H2 antagonist can be taken (as cetirizine and others are H1 antagonists). It is justified (maybe) as I suspect my problems are caused by a food allergy. If it is a kind of leaky gut syndrome (if such a syndrome even exists as most doctors do not even accept it) then H2 antagonist may help (maybe, maybe). The rationale behind it is: if H1 antagonist decreases permeability of joints (disallowing antibodies there) then H2 antagonist may decrease permeability of stomach walls (disallowing antigens that will finally cause a production of antibodies that will finally be directed against joints, tendons, etc.). It's a long shot though.

My symptoms are as follows: tunnel syndrome (like carpal tunnel syndrome) in almost every joint ie. nerves and joints are inflamed. Nerve involvement kind of ceased after I stopped eating gluten. But there is still inflammation of almost every major joint in my body (especially tendons around the joints). I don't know what would be the exact name for this disease - osteoarthritis or something else?

I eliminated from my diet grains (wheat, rye and such and even rice were causing symptoms), meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, garlic (it also causes symptoms), oranges, strawberries. Almost incredible that I have so many food allergies but I do and especially after ingesting grains I may see the symptoms like after a half an hour.
Looks like now I have to eliminate potatoes... though it was kind of staple food for me when all the grains are gone...

Indeed, NSAIDs worked for these pains but barely and antihistamines seem to work much much better. But we'll see.

Anyways, if you have any idea concerning what to do, including (1) how to deal with antihistamines, (2) what is the mechanism of their action in case of arthritis, (3) how does this connect to food allergy, (4) how to eliminate the offending foods, (5) how to make the stomach walls less permeable, and (6) why stomach walls and joint membranes got permeable in the first place, just drop a line here.
Are there any research papers that deal with these specific problems?
Surely I will be looking for the answers myself but any help is appreciated.

This seems to be the only thread that deals with antihistamines and their effect on joint pain.