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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Is Gluten Sensitivity a Key Cause of Fibromyalgia?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      A new study connects fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


    Caption: This t-shirt sums up common feeling of fibromyalgia sufferers. Photo: CC--Forsaken Fotos

    Celiac.com 04/10/2017 - Fibromyalgia syndrome is a debilitating condition of unknown cause, and only treatment approaches at present offer only limited relief from symptoms. Some fibromyalgia sufferers seem to benefit from a gluten-free diet, but there's not a great amount of data on the benefits of a gluten-free diet in fibromyalgia sufferers who do not have celiac disease.

    A team of researchers recently set out to describe 20 selected patients with fibromyalgia, but without celiac disease, whose symptoms improved when they followed a gluten-free diet. The research team included Carlos Isasi, Isabel Colmenero, Fernando Casco, Eva Tejerina, Natalia Fernandez, José I. Serrano-Vela, Maria J. Castro, and Luis F. Villa.

    They are variously associated with the Department of Rheumatology, Hospital Puerta de Hierro, Majadahonda Madrid, Spain; the Department of Pathology, Hospital Infantil Niño Jesús, Madrid, Spain; the Department of Pathology, Hospital Puerta de Hierro, Majadahonda Madrid, Spain; the Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Puerta de Hierro, Majadahonda Madrid, Spain; the Celiac and Gluten Sensitive patients Association of Madrid, Madrid, Spain; and with the Department of Immunology, Hospital Doce de Octubre, Madrid, Spain.

    What researchers now call non-celiac gluten-sensitivity is a daily common, yet treatable condition, with a range of symptoms that dovetail with many symptoms of fibromyalgia, including chronic musculoskeletal pain, asthenia, and irritable bowel syndrome.

    All patients underwent anti-transglutaminase assay, duodenal biopsy, and HLA typing. To rule out celiac disease in their test subjects, the research team used negative anti-transglutaminase assay results, together with the absence of villous atrophy in the duodenal biopsy.

    All patients showed signs of intraepithelial lymphocytosis with no villous atrophy. The doctors defined a positive clinical response as the achievement of at least one of the following: remission of fibromyalgia-associated pain, return to work, return to normal life, or the discontinuation of opioids. Doctors followed on the patients from 5 to 31 months, with a follow-up period of 16 months, on average.

    The level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of FM. Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life. In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine, and depression also improved together with pain. Patients #2 and #3, both with oral aphthae, went into complete remission for psoriatic arthritis and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.

    These results strengthen the idea that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may play a key role in the development of fibromyalgia syndrome.

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    Several years ago, I was in line at the grocers. The man behind me noticed the gluten-free foods on the belt. I told him that I had celiac disease. He then said; "I have a story for you." "My daughter suffered from fibromyalgia for many years. Last year while at her doctors office, he told her to not eat any gluten. She complied. Upon return to the doctor six months later, the doctor said, "I have something to tell you". "You no longer have fibromyalgia."" He father stated that his daughter has remained compliant and is no longer in constant pain.

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    I have eaten gluten free for ten years and I was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia!  And in consent pain!  Any suggestions please, I’m hurting.  Kt

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    34 minutes ago, Guest Katie said:

    I have eaten gluten free for ten years and I was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia!  And in consent pain!  Any suggestions please, I’m hurting.  Kt

    Hi Katie!

    Celiacs must be very careful with their gluten free diet.  Many celiacs also have additional food intolerances or allergies that may or may not improve once healed.  I recommend eating non-processed gluten-free foods and do not eat at restaurants for six months.   Avoid cross continuation in your home or if you risk eating out (I prefer only dedicated gluten-free restaurants or those recommended by celiacs on apps like “Find Me Gluten Free”).  Celiac.com had lots on information to help insure that you are truly gluten free.  Please make good use of the search function.  Check out our forum so that you can ask questions.  

    Another more restrictive diet is the Autoimmune Paleo Diet that help you identify food triggers and may calm inflammation. There was a small study conducted at Scripps in San Diego that achieved a 78%remission rate, if I recall.  They are now testing Hashimoto’s patients.  It might help fibromyalgia, so I encourage  you to research it.  

     

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    I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and neuropathy I’ve been in so much pain for years I’m 64 !! the dr want to give me injections in my neck for my chronic pain in my hands they !! That the dr already operated on for corporal tunnel!! after he did he said I’m my right hand was the worst nerve damage he had seen in his career!! now after the operation!! My hands hurt even worse!! my fingers are getting deformed and  go  numb can’t hold things I drop them!! My back And knees are going out and constantly in lots of pain!!!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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