Celiac and Arthritis

Arthritis Pain
An uncomfortable reality.
Expert Fact Checked

There is a possible connection between a celiac and arthritis symptoms. However, it is important to note there is more than one form of arthritis,and each form operates from different causational factors.

The Link Between a Celiac and Arthritis

A celiac patient cannot tolerate gluten protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. When gluten is ingested, the body responds by mounting an immune system attack against the gluten molecule. Unfortunately, this immune response goes awry, attacking the body's tissues instead of just the gluten. Over time, this untreated illness can wreak havoc upon the digestive tract by inflaming the intestines and slowly flattening the intestinal villi which leads to nutrient malabsorption. Though damage isn't isolated to the digestive tract, once the intestines are much more permeable, all sorts of foreign matter that should be confined to the small intestine will freely enter the bloodstream. This syndrome, often called "leaky gut syndrome" can be every bit as perilous as the nutrient deficiencies incurred through malabsorption.

So, it is easy to see why celiac disease is a condition that needs a speedy diagnosis and a fast treatment. A gluten elimination diet is the only effective treatment for celiac disease, however, this gluten intolerance generally takes many years to diagnose. Hence, the average celiac remains unaware of his condition for a very long time which allows gluten to do a considerable amount of damage to his system. More importantly, wheat is a staple food product in the United States, so this average celiac patient is likely to be ingesting a lot of gluten during his undiagnosed lifetime.

The damage caused by untreated celiac disease renders the body vulnerable to many other health conditions. Arthritis is one of several common conditions that may arise as a secondary response to celiac disease.

Two Common Types of Arthritis

Although there are more than two types of arthritis, the kinds of arthritis that receive the most attention are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanism behind each of these forms is actually different, though celiac disease can contribute to either.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the slow wearing away of joint tissue. This type of arthritis is common in the elderly alongside osteoporosis, which is the degradation of bone tissue. However, for celiac patients who experience osteoarthritis symptoms, this could be the result of nutrient deficiencies induced by intestinal malabsorption. Joint tissue needs a host of nutrients in order to repair and sustain itself. Osteoarthritis symptoms can be a signal that the body is simply not absorbing the necessary factors that support its connective tissue.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a little trickier in its mechanism. This form of arthritis is the result of inflamed joint tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered to be an auto-immune disorder as is celiac disease. According to Celiac.com, food allergies are often implicated in this disorder. One doesn't need to be a full blown celiac for gluten to be listed amongst trigger factors. Gluten sensitivities and allergies can cause a rheumatic response. However, since both illnesses are classified as auto-immune, and auto-immune conditions frequently travel in packs, celiac disease could be a primary cause of one patient's rheumatoid condition, or these two conditions may manifest together over time (though a gluten elimination diet may not affect the arthritis to the same degree that it will treat celiac disease).

Dietary Support

Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you have whether they be small or significant. The rheumatoid arthritis condition will require a separate treatment protocol and you may find yourself searching for a myriad of food allergies that extend beyond gluten. However, this is not to say that this form of arthritis will always respond to dietary measures. Should osteoarthritis be the cause of your joint discomfort, try and explore a supplement protocol with your doctor's help. Celiac disease isn't just about eliminating gluten. The body needs support from a high nutrient diet in order to repair itself over time, particularly when the conditions of both celiac and arthritis are present.

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Celiac and Arthritis