Diet Soda and Joint Pain

Traditional diet soda is made with the artificial sweetener aspartame, which replaces the dense caloric nature of sugar used in regular soda beverages. The safety of the artificial sweetener has caused significant controversy throughout the past decades, beginning with its widespread usage in the American food supply in 1981. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that an intake of 50 mg of the chemical per 2.2 lbs. of body weight is safe for general health, a statistic that allows for average Americans to consume modest amounts of diet soda without fear of complications. However, the chemical composition and metabolic action of aspartame is diverse and not well-understood. This fact, coupled with numerous complaints of joint pain associated with its use, has led many consumers and medical practitioners to be wary of its use.

Young woman wrapping her wrist joint. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

Conversion to Formaldehyde

Aspartame is converted to the toxic substance formaldehyde, especially at higher temperatures. Drinking large amounts of diet soda sweetened with aspartame can cause levels of the chemical to rise within the human body. The University of California at San Diego reports that an increased level of formaldehyde has the potential to cause serious side effects, including joint pain, among others. While it takes a considerable daily intake of diet soda to affect serious side effects in the human system, the accumulation of formaldehyde in susceptible individuals is of concern.

Food Additives and Chronic Disease

Chronic joint pain is one of many debilitating conditions, such as migraines and fibromyalgia, which may be caused or at least irritated by food additives such as aspartame. While the FDA and other regulatory agencies have not officially provided a statement dealing with the widespread suspicion, there is growing sentiment among medical professionals, both orthodox and holistic, that the additives have a large role to play in the etiology and severity of such disorders.

Acidity and Joint Pain

Acidic pH in the human body system appears to be a risk factor for arthritis-induced joint pain. Regular soda prepared with ordinary sugar is already highly acidic. When diet soda prepared with aspartame is ingested, the acidity range is even higher. Signs of high acidity include symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and joint pain.


Licensed holistic practitioners, such as Dr. H.J. Roberts, recommend that persons complaining of debilitating joint pain and soft tissue pain abstain from eating or drinking substances that are made with aspartame. In many cases, this act can mitigate the intensity of pain and duration of flare-ups.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.