Fibromyalgia and celiac disease are two debilitating conditions that prove to be extremely difficult to live with. Some symptoms of both conditions overlap and are very similar. In this blog, we look at the connections between the two conditions and how they may be related to one another.
Fibromyalgia is a complex, long-term chronic condition with a multitude of different symptoms, including widespread pain all over the body, and without a single known cause.
Many people with fibromyalgia have digestive disorder complaints. Most commonly they are told that these are caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of IBS include alternating diarrhea and constipation; nausea; bloating and wind; and extreme tiredness – the same symptoms of celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder whereby the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue seeing it as a foreign substance. When a person with celiac disease eats any food containing gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley), the damage is caused in the small intestine.
It has been reported that gluten can lead to chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and that some of the symptoms of the celiac disease resemble the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These include major digestive disorders; stomach ailments; chronic fatigue; headaches; widespread pain; and mental fog.
So, indications would suggest you could be presented with many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and be suffering from celiac disease. This similarity can make gaining an accurate diagnosis difficult.
There are a few key differences between the two conditions, however. First, the celiac disease only flares up when you eat gluten. It is diagnosed by a blood test and biopsy of the small intestine during a gastroscopy. The simple treatment of it is a completely gluten-free diet.
Secondly, there is one aspect of fibromyalgia that makes it distinctive. Pain occurs in eighteen specific points around the body and gets worse when someone applies pressure to these same areas. This makes it possible to distinguish fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions. A doctor can tell if you have fibromyalgia by performing a diagnostic test based on these ‘tender points.
Research has revealed that some patients who have adopted a gluten-free diet have seen their symptoms of fibromyalgia and IBS disappear or dramatically improve but there is currently insufficient data to substantiate this.
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