Chronic 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. Unrelenting 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 its 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;
- Mental health issues like depression or anxiety;
- ADD and ADHD;
- Irritable bowel syndrome;
- 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 its 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 reading an informative white paper on the subject.
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.