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Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis and Celiac Disease

The following was taken from a lecture given by Dr. Joseph Murray in October, 1996. It was published by the Sprue-Nik Press (Published by the Tri-County Celiac Sprue Support Group, a chapter of CSA/USA, Inc. serving southeastern Michigan) Volume 5, Number 9, December 1996. Dr. Joseph Murray, one of the leading USA physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). Dr. Murray (murray.joseph@mayo.edu) of the Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN, is a gastroenterologist who specializes in treating Celiac disease:

Q: Can you touch on bone pain?

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A: The most common cause of severe bone pain with untreated celiac disease is osteomalacia, which is malformation of the bones due to lack of Vitamin D and calcium. It affects mostly the hips, and sometimes the shoulders and back. It usually gets better with specific treatment, which includes the gluten-free diet for celiacs and sometimes includes Vitamin D supplementation and other interventions.

Another cause of bone pain is osteoporosis. It can often cause pain in the back, due to vertebrae which have become shortened and have begun squeezing the nerves. This condition is very painful and is not going to get better; once the vertebrae have shortened they are not going to stretch back up to their original size.

Muscle pain can also occur, due to Vitamin D deficiency. I have seen some leg pains as the initial presentation of celiac disease which cleared up with the gluten-free diet.

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