Chronic pain touches 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 way of seeing life. Relentless pain becomes an ever-present companion, accompanying you wherever you go no matter what you do.
Many of those who live with chronic pain spend their entire lives trying to find the cause of their pain. Traditional medicine often treats the symptoms, treating each pain as its own disease. Take this drug for this bread. Take another medicine for another pain. You may also often receive conflicting advice. Try to increase your activity. No, you need to rest. Try with ice. No, try with 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 all the wrong medical advice and indulge in a life of chronic pain?
Before you give up and give up, you should be aware of a common cause of chronic pain and a problem that can be solved relatively simply. A cunning culprit may have been wreaking havoc on her body for years. Gluten.
What is gluten?
Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, malt, rye, and some oats. People with gluten sensitivity often have no idea of the kind of destruction this protein is wreaking on their bodies. The traditional medical community has only recently begun to recognize how gluten can cause harm.
People with gluten sensitivity cannot digest this protein. As the protein travels through their digestive systems, it damages the villi of their intestines, the part of their intestines that collects nutrients from 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 problems such as 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 foods (bread, cereal, pasta) could do 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 of all, gluten sensitivity leads to inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, plain and simple. In fact, you may have been taking anti-inflammatory drugs for years knowing full well that your pain is related to inflammation. Gluten also causes chronic pain through its effect on neurological systems. For example, gluten has been linked to migraines and nerve damage.
So what can I do?
Your chronic pain will never get better until you get to the root of the pain. You may have known, for example, that inflammation has caused your chronic pain. However, inflammation is just another symptom, not a cause. Too often, traditional doctors stop their diagnosis one step away from the actual cause.
If you think gluten might be causing your chronic pain, there are several steps you can take. First, you can talk to your medical provider about testing your blood for antibodies related to gluten sensitivity. While these tests can show a gluten sensitivity and give you concrete proof, they are not perfect.
In fact, more often than not, when you go to your doctor, the typical test ordered to determine if you have gluten intolerance is a glaringly poor test. Learn more about why the typical gluten intolerance test isn’t adequate by reading an informative report on the subject.
If you test negative but you still suspect gluten is to blame for your chronic pain, you may want to try a gluten-elimination diet. This means eliminating all gluten-containing foods (and the list is quite long) for a defined period of time. Once you have eliminated this protein from your body, you can add it back to your diet. If your symptoms return, then you have your answer.
Don’t give up and give in to a life of chronic pain. You deserve to lead a full, productive and happy life. Chronic pain prevents 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 could be your ticket to a pain-free life.