Can Potassium Reduce Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Can Potassium Reduce Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease?

Could potassium reduce pain in rheumatoid disease?

“Oral Potassium (K+) Reduces Pain in RA: A Randomized Active Control Study of Diet Based K+ Intervention”

Can potassium reduce pain? Dr Kirsch tweet: Oral Potassium (K+) Reduces Pain in RA

A poster presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting earlier this month described how potassium may be important in rheumatoid arthritis / disease. Researchers in India randomized 172 people with rheumatoid disease (PRD) into a three-arm study for 16 weeks. The PRD who participated had been diagnosed an average of 10 years and had “active pain” greater than 4 cm on a 1-10 visual scale.

Pain visual analogue scale
The three groups in the study:

  • A: Consumed a potassium rich diet
  • B: Also consumed a potassium supplement
  • C: Consumed a routine diet of 2-3 gm K+ daily

All PRD in the study continued their “pre-study supervised standard rheumatology care” and medications. 72% were on methotrexate. 60% were on prednisolone. Pain medicines were permitted as “rescue” if needed.

Why study potassium K+ in rheumatoid arthritis?

  • 1988-1994 data from the US National Health and Nutrition Survey III showed low K+ in PRD
  • The Indian researchers had presented a study in 2014 showing that K+ was low (p<0.5) in PRD, especially in women
  • K+ is significant to certain processes that are important in RA/RD: “K+ is critical to ‘pain’ [nociceptive processing, K+ ion channel downregulation (Tsantoulas. Trends Neurosci 2014; 37:146) and related process e.g. oxidant tissue damage and T lymphocytes function [K2P5.1 (Bitner. Arthritis Res Therapy 2011;13:R 21), Kv1.3 & KCa3.1 channels (Lam. Drug Dev Res 2011; 72: 573] and cortisol secretion.”

What did the investigators learn about K+ in RA / RD? Did potassium reduce pain?

Pain and ACR measures improved with potassium, but the difference was not statistically significant (“by intent to treat analysis/ITT”), But completer analysis showed significant change (p=0.04) in mean pain VAS in the B intervention arm. The B arm also showed the greatest proportion of PRD “with at least 50% reduction and minimal clinical important difference in pain VAS;” however, we do not know what percentage of them that was. That may have been included in a visual on the poster, but it was not in the poster’s abstract.

Sound familiar? Remember the News on Rheumatoid Arthritis and higher Vitamin D doses

I’ve seen similar posters about Vitamin D, which is significantly low in many PRD.

Results of studies have been interesting, but similarly confounding. As the Indian investigators admit, confounding factors include “ongoing medication, dietary factors and compliance, disease activity status.”

When my Vitamin D level was tested, it was only 7, extremely low. Unfortunately, prescription D has not had an impact on my RD symptoms.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Did potassium reduce pain or has Vitamin D made a difference? Do you think you will try it?

Stay tuned for POTASSIUM PART 2: How can you sensibly increase potassium intake?

Related Articles

Kainifard T, Saluja M, Venugopalan A, Rane R, Chopra A. Oral Potassium (K+) Reduces Pain in RA: A Randomized Active Control Study of Diet Based K+ Intervention [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015; 67 (suppl 10). Accessed November 16, 2015.

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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14 thoughts on “Can Potassium Reduce Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease?

  • November 25, 2015 at 6:34 am

    My previous RA doctor seemed very unconcerned about my vitamin D levels being around 20. I began taking OTC vitamin D and after about 6 months began noticing a difference. I just finished reading some preliminary work about RA patients being low in vitamin E and it helping pain levels. I am starting to look into the validity of that. A friend who was just diagnosed with severe RA has chosen to go the naturopathic route. It has been about 3 weeks and she is seeing results already. So maybe there is more to deficiencies in our bodies.

  • November 25, 2015 at 7:41 am

    My rheumatologist has always told me I need a good vitamin D amount as I was always low. I too have noticed a difference since taking her recommend amount. I will ask her about the potassium on my next visit. Thanks Kelly for posting about this. Have a blessed day.

  • November 25, 2015 at 9:17 am

    On prescription Vitamin D. Have never explored Potassium. Thanks again Kelly.

  • November 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

    AGAIN: To ease ALL symptoms of RA,including pain, exhaustion and sleep problems try “Earthing”. Read “Earthing; The mostimportant health discovery ever” by Clinton Ober+.” I stumbled upon this book by accident and it turned out to be my MIRACLE CURE. Results began after 1 week! Best to all those suffering- Rick

  • November 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    My potassium has been monitored since I am on medications for high blood pressure. My levels have always been normal but definitely something to keep in mind! My GP put me on Vit D from the beginning. Last check my levels were a little high so I cut back a little but haven’t noticed a difference. Thanks Kelly for keeping an eye out for us!

  • November 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Not sure what my potassium levels are and vitamin D itself seems to have little impact. What does help me when I’m going through a flare is cod liver oil.

  • December 1, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    This is not the first study that found potassium may help. There were hints as far back as the 1950s (proposed by fellow named de Coti-Marsh). A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled pilot study was done in Iran in 2008 found positive results:

    The researcher of the above study proposed a theory about why it seemed to help:

    As an aside – don’t bother trying to supplement potassium using pills – you can’t get them large enough. Potassium chloride salt can be purchased on Amazon. If naught else, substituting potassium chloride salt for sodium chloride “table” salt should help control blood pressure.

    • December 2, 2015 at 12:16 am

      this was part 1 in a series of 3 –
      thanks for the input Jim.

  • Pingback: The Best Arthritis Blogs for 2016 -

  • January 19, 2016 at 7:33 am

    i been on 5000 iu of vitimam d my level is still only 49. probably less now in winter.

  • February 19, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    I read an article about Kelly in Healthy Living and clicked the link to this website. I was tired of all the articles of people with RA that run marathons and it was comforting to hear that I’m not alone in trying every treatment and not getting relief from the pain of RA. I’m waiting for insurance approval to try Xeljan and we’ll see if that helps. My toughest struggle is feeling so diminished–like my spark has burned out. I used to be so active and healthy. Now I struggle to do my daily water aerobics class for much older people. I’ve suffered weight gain from the medicines/prednisone despite very careful eating. The extra weight puts more pressure on my joints, making it harder to exercise, so I gain more weight. I feel like I’m on a downward cycle. I’m getting very worn out. I don’t have the strength or interest in keeping my home tidy because I don’t want to go up and down stairs. Yet I need to clean it up so we can get ready to sell it if I want a single-floor home.

  • June 10, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Seems like there are for and againsts for the use of potassium to assist with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

  • November 25, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for the information. Right now I have a different problem warning warning before you move to another state make sure you have enough meds because it might take a long time to get reestablished with a pain management doctor found that out when I moved from Oklahoma to Iowa

  • April 21, 2019 at 3:03 am

    I have hade extreme low potassium for almost 20 years and was just diagnosed with RA pretty sure iv had it all my life. Im now wondering if all my recent flairs are from my potasdium getting to low? Something to discuss with my rummy


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