How gluten can cause your chronic pain
Chronic pain affects every aspect of your life. It affects how and even if you can work. It affects your relationships with family and friends. It affects your mood and outlook on life. Relentless pain becomes an ever-present companion, accompanying you wherever you go, whatever you do.
Many chronic pain sufferers spend their lives trying to find the cause of their pain. Traditional medicine often treats the symptoms, treating each ailment and pain as its own disease. Take this medicine for this pain. Take another medicine for another ailment. You may also get conflicting advice. Try to increase your activity. No, you need to rest. Try the ice cream. No, try the heat. Well-meaning friends and family offer all sorts of advice and old wives’ tales and may even accuse you of making it all up.
At what point do you forgo all the wrong medical advice and give in to a life of chronic pain?
Before you give up and give in, you need to know a common cause of chronic pain and a problem that can be solved relatively simply. A sneaky culprit may have been quietly wreaking havoc on your body for years. Gluten.
What is gluten?
Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, malt, rye, and some rolled oats. Gluten-sensitive people often have no idea what kind of destruction this protein wreaks on their bodies. The mainstream medical community has only recently begun to recognize how harm gluten can cause.
People sensitive to gluten cannot digest this protein. As the protein travels through their digestive system, it damages the villi in their intestines, the part of your intestines that collects nutrients from your food. Over time, you lose the ability to absorb nutrients into your body, leading to a host of health issues, including:
- celiac disease ;
- Autoimmune disease;
- Mental health issues like depression or anxiety;
- ADD and ADHD;
- Irritable bowel syndrome;
- And chronic pain.
How does gluten cause chronic pain?
It’s hard to imagine that a protein found in the most basic foods – bread, cereal, pasta – could cause so much damage. But when you think about what you lose by ingesting what is essentially a poison, it actually makes more sense.
Gluten causes chronic pain in two main ways. First and foremost, gluten sensitivity leads to inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, plain and simple. In fact, you may have taken anti-inflammatories for years knowing full well that your pain is related to inflammation. Gluten also causes chronic pain through its effect on your neurological systems. For example, gluten has been linked to migraines and nerve damage.
So what can I do?
Your chronic pain will never get better until you get to the root cause of the pain. You may have known, for example, that inflammation led to your chronic pain. However, inflammation is just another symptom, not a cause. Too often traditional doctors stop their diagnosis right before the real cause.
If you think gluten might be the cause of your chronic pain, there are several steps you can take. First, you can talk to your healthcare professional about testing your blood for antibodies linked to gluten sensitivity. While these tests can prove gluten sensitivity and give you concrete proof, they are not perfect.
In fact, most of the time when you visit your doctor, the typical test requested to determine if you have gluten intolerance is a notoriously poor test. Learn more about why the typical gluten intolerance test isn’t adequate by reading a informative white paper on the subject.
If the tests are negative but you still suspect that gluten is the culprit of your chronic pain, you can try a gluten elimination diet. This means eliminating all gluten-containing foods (and the list is quite long) for a set period of time. Once you have rid your body of this protein, you can add it back to your diet. If your symptoms return, then you have your answer.
Don’t give up and give in to a lifetime of chronic pain. You deserve to lead a full, productive and happy life. Chronic pain prevents you from living the life you want to live. It’s time to stop treating the symptoms and tackle the root cause. A gluten-free diet might just be your ticket to a pain-free life.