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Joint pain problems in celiac disease

Lana Bandoim's picture
running and celiac disease

Several hundred symptoms have been linked to celiac disease, but joint pain is often near the top of complaints from patients. It is usually accompanied by stiffness and can continue after treatment for the disease begins. However, there are ways to help deal with this common problem before it becomes a bigger issue.


Joint pain may not be as common as bloating or cramping among people who have celiac disease symptoms, yet it should not be ignored. It may be a sign of something more serious such as arthritis and could require a separate treatment. Although a gluten-free diet is the first step to eliminating joint pain linked to the disease, it may not be enough for some people.

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It is easy to blame old injuries, excessive exercise or other problems on joint pain. However, research indicates it is a symptom of celiac disease for some patients. Although one symptom is not enough for a diagnosis, the pain needs to be addressed by discussing the problem with a doctor. The University of Chicago also points out the gluten-free diet may not stop it, and it should be considered during follow-up testing.

Scientists are still investigating why joint pain is seen among celiac disease patients, but there are several clues that may explain its existence. First, malabsorption could be affecting the ability of the body to get essential nutrients, so the pain becomes visible. In addition, inflammation is a frequent issue for celiac patients, and it may be spreading to their knees, legs, arms and other parts of the body to create the joint pain.

Treatment for celiac-associated joint pain begins with a strict gluten-free diet, and it may take time to see results. The second step often recommended by doctors is to try over-the-counter medications such as Aleve to fight the pain. Severe cases may require prescriptions, but there are also other suggestions to relieve joint pain. Capsaicin found in creams and other forms has helped some people while joint supplements have been used by others. Special exercises meant to decrease pain and stiffness are also an important part of the treatment plan.