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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts   What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet What if my doctor won't listen to me? An Open Letter to Skeptical Health Care Practitioners Gluten-Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

Celiac disease and sports injuries?
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7 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

Is there documented link between celiac disease and gym/sport-related injuries? I'm a recently diagnosed celiac and I'm wondering if the reason I have so many injuries (which won't go away even after months of rehab) is the celiac disease.

Basically, I have ongoing pain in a number of areas in my body (left shoulder, right hamstring, left Achilles). The specialist and physio I've seen both think it is tendinitis, but I've been doing the recommended rehab and stretches for it for about 10 months and it's not going away.

  1. The injuries started around August 2016. 
  2. Around March 2017 (so, well after the injuries), I started getting really sick and I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I've been gluten free since April (4 months) and the 'sickness' symptoms are gone but my injuries are still here.
  3. It kind of feels like every time I do exercise, something new goes off in my body. And I'm not training like an idiot or anything - before this I was training for 10 years without any injuries.

At this point I am kindof hoping to god it's because of the celiac disease and that the injuries will sort themselves out once I finish healing (which I understand takes over 6 months?). Otherwise I have no idea what to do because I've been to the sports-doctor and physio a trillion times, I've spent a million hours doing rehab and there's basically no improvement. 

I just wanted to know whether anyone else has experienced the same thing and if you have any advice

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1 hour ago, doron said:

Hi everyone,

Is there documented link between celiac disease and gym/sport-related injuries? I'm a recently diagnosed celiac and I'm wondering if the reason I have so many injuries (which won't go away even after months of rehab) is the celiac disease.

Basically, I have ongoing pain in a number of areas in my body (left shoulder, right hamstring, left Achilles). The specialist and physio I've seen both think it is tendinitis, but I've been doing the recommended rehab and stretches for it for about 10 months and it's not going away.

  1. The injuries started around August 2016. 
  2. Around March 2017 (so, well after the injuries), I started getting really sick and I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I've been gluten free since April (4 months) and the 'sickness' symptoms are gone but my injuries are still here.
  3. It kind of feels like every time I do exercise, something new goes off in my body. And I'm not training like an idiot or anything - before this I was training for 10 years without any injuries.

At this point I am kindof hoping to god it's because of the celiac disease and that the injuries will sort themselves out once I finish healing (which I understand takes over 6 months?). Otherwise I have no idea what to do because I've been to the sports-doctor and physio a trillion times, I've spent a million hours doing rehab and there's basically no improvement. 

I just wanted to know whether anyone else has experienced the same thing and if you have any advice

Celiac messes with your ability to " absorb" the nutrients in your food.  Nutrient/ vitamin deficiencies and cause lots of problems.   As your small intestines heal, you should be able to use the nutrients in your food better.  

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My tendons have a tendoncy to tear. Been going to PT for one reason or another for about 4 years. I've Been gluten free for two years and my blood test numbers are still slowly heading down. I recently managed to go 6 months without a new injury and my injury from 2 weeks ago is almost gone. Always figured it was due to malnutrition. Celiac confirmed it to me. I take it easy at the gym and have noticed less Oops moments there recently.

 

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Two months after my celiac disease diagnosis (age 51), I fractured two vertebrae doing NOTHING!  It was a result of osteoporosis that I had not been aware of -- thanks to celiac disease.    As a swimmer, cyclist and runner, I was devastated.  I was and still am very active.  

I took a year off of biking riding and running (trails) due to fall risks and impact.  Instead, I focused on gentle exercises like walking.  Boring?  Yes.  But it gave me time to heal (absorbing nutrients, building bone and recovering from anemia).  After a year, I was back on my bike (road,  no more dirt), and running (trails, but carefully).  Swimming was a lifesaver.  Ask any swimmer, who swims exclusively and is old,  and they will tell you that they have their original knees and hips, unlike their counterparts who do more impact exercise.  

So, back off, give yourself time to heal (we all heal at different rates so I can not give you a defined time) and soon you will be back to working out at the level you like and at the sport you love.  

 

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There might be a correlation because I started having problems with tendinitis and bursitis around the same time I was diagnosed.

I think the inflammation is what exasperates the problems. Accidental exposures and cumulative micro-exposures prolong the problems. 

Try adding more anti-inflammatory foods and teas into your diet.

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Thank you everyone for your replies!

I think I'll go get a blood test and see if I can get some indication whether my nutrient levels are low etc.

 

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Hey,

So I ran collegiate track and cross-country and trained at a high level while undiagnosed. Had I not been an elite level athlete, I do not think I would have been so insistent that there was something wrong with me. I suffered many stress fractures and had a lot of problems with anemia, but also had a lot of soft tissue injuries as well (herniated lumbar disc, achilles tear, plantar fasciitis, ITBS to name a few). Not to scare you, but the two years since diagnosis have been a rollercoaster for me in terms of training - I have found myself in the best shape of my life, but I have also found myself so sick and/or injured that I have trouble walking to the bus stop (sometimes within weeks of each other!).

In sport medicine/exercise physiology, the newer school of thought on injuries is that they are not purely a product of biomechanical problems, but rather energy balance problems. Essentially, if what you're doing physically exceeds your body's capacity to repair it or compensate for it, you will become injured in the area that is your weakest point biomechanically-speaking. This can come about from both overtraining or poor nutritional status. In a healthy person, poor nutritional status is usually a case of disordered eating/not fueling correctly for sports, but for a celiac things are more complicated since you have a fundamental problem with nutrient absorption and a necessarily restricted diet, all of which can lead to poor nutritional status. Unfortunately, the spheres of knowledge for celiac disease and sports physiology do not overlap much in healthcare. 

Others have given you good advice about the medical side of things - get your vitamin and mineral levels checked. I will offer you that I have had a lot of minor/insidious injury problems in the  last two years, mostly aligned with periods of unwellness. The other thing I suspect played into my issues is that I suddenly saw a significant and unprecedented increase in fitness a few months post-diagnosis. Although I was very careful to try not to increase my training load, inevitably I did so unintentionally - without trying harder, I was just much faster because my body was not longer spending most of its energy/time on whatever autoimmune nonsense. To most this speed increase might have been trivial, but when you magnify to high mileage or training loads, minor changes matter. I imagine that on a cellular, internal level, my body was not phased too much, but my skeletal system was not prepared for this bump up, and couldn't repair itself and so I became injured.

My advice would be keep at physio. Although nutrition does play into your injury status, fixing that alone won't likely cure your body's ails once you already have an injury.

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