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Gluten allergies and sensitivities vary from person to person, but according to the Gluten Intolerance Group, some of the symptoms can include severe muscle aches as a result of an autoimmune reaction to the gluten protein 4. These muscle aches are distinct from injury-related aches, because they are the result of the gluten sensitivity rather than the result of a particular activity 4.
Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy
Celiac disease is an allergy to a family of proteins called gluten; these proteins occur in wheat, barley and rye grains 13. As a result, people with celiac disease are allergic to products made from those grains 1. Current figures show that about 1 in 133 people has celiac disease, but some awareness groups believe that it affects even more individuals, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group 1. The condition is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so varied and affect so much of the body. Some, such as muscle aches, could also be the result of other conditions 4.
Severe Muscle Aches
Wheat Bran Allergies
According to Medline Plus, muscle aches can be the result of overuse, tension or injury 4. But some aches are symptoms of conditions that affect your whole body, like infections and disorders that affect your connective tissue, such as lupus. Fibromyalgia, arthritis and blood pressure medications also cause muscle aches 4. If your muscle pain is unrelated to physical injury, discuss your health with your physician.
Gluten-Related Pain Symptoms
According to the website Wheat Allergy and Intolerance, joint and muscle pain can be a symptom of a wheat intolerance 3. For some individuals, the pain is extremely severe, but for others, it can feel like muscle fatigue or stiffness.
Health Benefits of Gluten
If tests reveal you have a gluten allergy, you should work to eliminate gluten from your diet. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group, there are many foods that contain gluten. Certain modified food starches also contain gluten, so exercise caution. Many sauces, condiments, and imitation products contain gluten, so scrutinize ingredient labels carefully. Oats do not technically contain gluten protein, but because they are processed in facilities that process wheat and flour, you should eat only certified gluten-free oats 3.
- If tests reveal you have a gluten allergy, you should work to eliminate gluten from your diet.
- Certain modified food starches also contain gluten, so exercise caution.
Treating Muscle Aches
According to Medline Plus, you can relieve muscle aches by icing the muscles and by light massage to ease muscle tension 4. Regular low-impact exercise and stretching might help to develop your muscle tone and relieve pain. Reduce stress and tension through meditation and exercise routines like yoga. And get enough sleep to control stress levels. Discuss your pain management methods with your physician if home care does not provide enough relief.
- According to Medline Plus, you can relieve muscle aches by icing the muscles and by light massage to ease muscle tension 4.
- And get enough sleep to control stress levels.
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- GIG: About Celiac Disease
- GIG: Gluten-Free Label Reading
- Wheat Free: Wheat Allergy
- Medline Plus: Muscle Aches
- Ludvigsson JF, Leffler DA, Bai JC, et al. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. Gut. 2013;62(1):43-52. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301346
- Gujral N, Freeman HJ, Thomson AB. Celiac disease: prevalence, diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18(42):6036-59. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i42.6036
- Cianferoni A. Wheat allergy: diagnosis and management. J Asthma Allergy. 2016;9:13-25. doi:10.2147/JAA.S81550
- Ludvigsson J. et al. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. Gut. 2013 Jan;62(1):43-52. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301346. Epub 2012 Feb 16.
Kimberly Schaub is a nutritionist, writer and cook whose passions have led from serving in the United States Air Force (2005-2006) to R&D for Day by Day Gourmet (2009) and into professional writing for publications since 2006. She has been published in Pepperdine's "Graphic," "That's Natural in Pueblo" and "Pike Place Market News." Schaub earned her Bachelor of Science in nutrition at Pepperdine.