Muscle Joint Pain From Milk Protein

plate with salami,ham,bacon and speck
Milk protein can be found in surprising places, such as your lunchmeat. (Image: margouillatphotos/iStock/Getty Images)

If you’re experiencing muscle and joint pain, the foods and beverages you are ingesting may be to blame. That’s because milk protein intolerance can cause an array of symptoms, including such pain. Two main proteins in milk -- casein and whey -- are found in an array of foods, from lunch meats to processed snacks. Consult a dietician or a doctor if you suspect you have milk protein intolerance.

Significance

Muscle and joint pain are not the only symptoms of intolerance to milk protein. Such symptoms can vary from person to person. Other signs of food intolerance can include abdominal pain, bloating, arthritis, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, fatigue, lethargy, rashes, headaches, nausea, skin problems and sinusitis, according to the Food Intolerance Awareness website run by the British Allergy Foundation. Acne, gas and asthma can be other signs, according to Beth M. Ley, author of “Colostrum.”

Identification

A food intolerance is different than a food allergy, though some signs and symptoms are the same, according to the Mayo Clinic. Food intolerance is more common than food allergy, which triggers your immune system. Milk is one of the eight foods that account for 90 percent of allergic reactions, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. However, the prevalence of milk protein intolerance is not known, according to P.F. Fox, author of “Advanced Dairy Chemistry.” Milk sugar intolerance, also called lactose intolerance, is more commonly recognized than milk protein intolerance. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 30 million to 50 million American adults suffer lactose intolerance.

Time Frame

Your muscle and joint pain or other symptoms may not appear immediately after consuming milk protein. These symptoms may show up hours or even days later, according to The Allergy Site. Read food labels carefully to ensure you are not ingesting milk protein if you suffer intolerance to it. For example, many “non-dairy” products contain casein, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can raise your risk for developing food intolerances, such as one for milk protein. These include eating large amounts of a certain food, drinking too much alcohol, consuming processed foods, consuming spicy foods and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Tests/Diagnosis

One standard way of diagnosing milk protein food intolerance is eliminating any food containing milk protein from your diet for a number of weeks to see if your muscle and joint pain or other symptoms ease, according to The Allergy Site. Food with milk protein in it is then gradually reintroduced so you can assess the effects. Have a qualified dietician supervise your elimination diet. You also may have a blood test. Blood tests for true allergic reactions are called immunoglobulin E, or IgE tests. Another test, called the immunoglobulin G, or IgG test, can indicate food intolerances, according to Sheryl B. Miller of Bothell, Washington, clinical laboratory director at the Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic. As of 2010, cost for such a test averaged $100 to $400, with insurance companies often not offering coverage.

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