How Gluten Can Be Causing Your Chronic Pain

Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson's Chronic Condition Natural Treatment Blog

Intentional musings of a unique Shelby Township Michigan Chiropractic Physician dedicated to helping people find solutions to improving their health by rooting out causes to chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, thyroid disorder symptoms, balance disorders, migraines, sciatica, ADD/ADHD/ASD, back pain, peripheral neuropathy, gluten sensitivity and autoimmune disorders so they can Reclaim Their Life!

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From the Desk of Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC.....

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How Gluten Can Be Causing Your Chronic Pain


Pain-TetranecroChronic pain reaches into 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 your outlook on life. Chronic pain becomes an ever present companion, accompanying you wherever you go no matter what you do.

Many who live in chronic pain spend a lifetime trying to find the cause of their pain. Traditional medicine often treats the symptoms, addressing each ache and pain as it's own illness. Take this drug for this pain. Take another drug for another ache. You may often get conflicting advice as well. Try increasing your activity. No, you need to rest. Try ice. No, try heat. Well-meaning friends and family offer all kinds of advice and old wives' tales and maybe even accuse you of making it all up.

At what point do you give up on all the misguided medical advice and give in to a life of chronic pain?

Before you give up and give in, you need to know about a common cause for chronic pain and a problem that can be solved relatively simply. A sneaky culprit may have quietly been 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 oats. People with a gluten sensitivity often have no idea the kind of destruction this protein is wreaking on their bodies. The traditional medical community has only recently started to acknowledge how gluten can cause damage.

People with a gluten sensitivity cannot digest this protein. As the protein travels through their digestive systems, it damages the villi in their intestines, the part of your intestines that gather nutrients from your food. Over time, you lose the ability to absorb nutrients into your body leading to a host of health problems including:

  • Celiac disease;
  • Autoimmune disease;
  • Fatigue;
  • Anemia;
  • Mental health issues like depression or anxiety;
  • ADD and ADHD;
  • Irritable bowel syndrome;
  • Neuropathy;
  • And chronic pain.

How Does Gluten Cause Chronic Pain?
It's hard to imagine that a protein found in the most basic of 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 key ways. First and foremost, gluten sensitivity leads to inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, plain and simple. In fact, you may have been taking anti-inflammatory medications for years knowing full well that your pain is tied to inflammation. Gluten also causes chronic pain through it's 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 improve until you get to the root cause of the pain. You may have known, for example, that inflammation has led to your chronic pain. However, inflammation is simply another symptom, not a cause. Too often, traditional doctors stop their diagnosis one step shy of the actual cause.

If you think gluten might be causing your chronic pain, you can take several steps. First, you can talk with your medical provider about testing your blood for antibodies linked to gluten sensitivity. While these tests can prove a gluten sensitivity and give you concrete proof, they are not perfect.

In fact most of the time when you go to your medical doctor, the typical test ordered to determine if you have gluten intolerance is a notoriously poor test. Learn more about why the typical gluten intolerance test is not adequate by clicking on the big orange button below.

If the tests come back negative but you still suspect gluten as the culprit behind your chronic pain, you can try a gluten elimination diet. This means eliminating all food containing gluten (and the list is pretty long) for a defined period of time. Once you have rid your body of this protein, you can then add it back into 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 stops you from leading the life you want to live. It's time to stop treating the symptoms and get to the root cause. A gluten-free diet might just be your ticket to a pain free life.

If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the top of this post and please share with those you know who are still suffering with chronic condition symptoms despite having medical managment. Thank you, help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living!

All the best – Dr. Johnson – Digging Deeper To Find Solutions


Good information!
Posted @ Monday, July 02, 2012 12:33 PM by sandy
Well, I never knew that Gluten had this effect, so I was thinking that my condition was caused by Stomach cancer or Ulcers. I have tried to read alot about the topic on the internet e.g. colostomy, but after reading your article I will pass information to my doctor.  
Thansk for a great article! 
Posted @ Friday, January 11, 2013 5:56 AM by Ben
I am a (normally) healthy 28 yr old female. I have two kids and this past holloween , an agonizing pain started in my pelvic area , i thought i was having a misscarige , but when i went to the ER they said i had bladder prolapse. I did the follow up with my obgyn but she saw no sighns of bladder prolapse.a few days later it shifted all to my lower back on the left then continued to move to all of my lower back. I lost my Job ,I lost my boyfiend , my home and my mind. Since i am fiarlly young te doctors must think that im a druggie , or a coo-bird. I have bi-polar disorder but my mental health was fine until this pain come , now i have to be in therapy an all the doctors that i seen just want to treat my depresion when actually my depression is a symtom of my chronic pain. Ive done epidural shots in my low back but after 8-10 days the pain comes back. Im greatfull for those8-10 days, Ive had mri, ct, x-ray and a bone scan. I do have spinal stenosis in my cervical neck area , which doctors had told me for the past 7 years , that i have neck pain because im bi-polar and its anxiety. but im getting so frusterated , my hands get numb and tingly everyday. They took away my med (norco ) im guessing they thought i was after drugs , but now that i have no pain relief whatsoever , i have been drinking everynight. The pain clinic needs to treat my pain not an addiction problem , if i needed that i would go to a rehab. I have another apointment on the 29th. so until then im going to try to decrease my intake on gluten. Some lables dont say they have gluten , is there another name gluten goes by on the nutrition facts ? 
Posted @ Saturday, July 20, 2013 3:14 PM by Angela
Hi Angela,  
Be sure to download my GF, CF, SF guide and you will find what you are looking for on the labels. If you eat mainly protein, vegetables and low sugar fruit, you will probably find some relief.
Posted @ Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:29 PM by Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC
Hi. I've had chronic pain for years and recently started experimenting with removing gluten from my diet (I'm 9 days in). I was wondering if you have any opinion on gluten's relation to adult cystic acne? The more reading I do, the more I'm wondering if it's all related. Thoughts? Thank you
Posted @ Wednesday, March 19, 2014 9:20 PM by Karen
Hi Karen, thanks for reading and taking action for your health! In my practice I have found that when a patient cleans up his or her diet to eliminate foods that are not compatible with their body (blood type related, antigen related, etc.) AND heal the digestive tract, get back into good normal balance, the skin will naturally reflect these positive changes and clear up. Best regards!
Posted @ Thursday, March 20, 2014 7:59 AM by Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC"
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