Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is it Fibromyalgia, CFS or Gluten sensitivity ?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia, from  the Mayo ClinicAbout Health, CDC and Johns Hopkins include:
  • Widespread Body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness 
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Numbness and Tingling Sensations (Peripheral Neuropathy) in the hands and feet
  • Brain Fog 
  • Morning Stiffness
  • Chemical Sensitivity
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Skin Problems
  • Joint Disorder
  • Urinary Problems
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Nausea
  • Memory Loss
  • Vision Problems
  • Weight Gain
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Cognitive problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog")
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog")                                  
  • Sensitivity to temperature, light, and noise                                                                        
  • TMJ syndrome                                                                                                                   
  • Morning stiffness                                                                                                               
  • Urinary problems

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms just from the CDC website and Mayo Clinic alone include:
  • Problems with sleep
  • Difficulties with memory and concentration
  • Persistent muscle pain
  • Joint pain (without redness or swelling)
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
  • Sore throat
  • Brain fog (feeling like you're in a mental fog)
  • Difficulty maintaining an upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting
  • Allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
  • Irritable bowel
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)
  • Depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpit
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

Now, lets look at the symptoms of Gluten intolerance or sensitivity from any number of sources:
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  •  Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.
  •  Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms).
  •  Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
  •  Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
  •  Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
  •  Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
  •  Headaches and migraines
  • Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
  • Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings 
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis
You can clearly see an overlap in a multitude of symptoms. Can anyone be clear when you look at it this way? Even a doctor? 
Of course there are some who may have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, or any number of other things.. when in fact its a Gluten sensitivity. 
If only there were a doctor who suggested they go gluten free for 60 days they may be able to find that out.

You cannot get tested for Fibromyalgia as a general rule, (although there are some suggestions that you may in fact be able to). You can read that here and here.

But you can get tested for a wheat allergy, or even a sensitivity
After scouring the internet I have yet to find actual statistics on the misdiagnosis rates of Fibromyalgia. We do know for a fact a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is commonly overlooked  because some physicians  are not familiar with the disorder, and because it can can mimic symptoms of other conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritisosteoarthritis,Hashimotos Lyme diseaselupus, and somatoform disorder, and even chronic back pain.

The best thing to do is eliminate gluten and see if this helps with your symptoms. If it helps a lot as it has with some people it does not necessarily mean you do not have Fibromyalgia, or CFS. It could just be that the gluten is causing your symptoms to be worse. 
If you are thinking about going gluten free here are some good points of reference. 

The Gluten-Free Diet Cheat-Sheet: How to Go G-Free
9 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-Free

The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free


  1. I would be cautious in advising people to try gluten-free as there has been some evidence that once you cut gluten out of your diet re-introducing it can actually set off a sensitivity reaction, even if you never previously had a problem.
    However, there is also evidence that if it is your immune system reacting to gluten and the bowel has become damaged enough that gluten can pass into the blood stream there can be associated pain throughout the body caused by the immune system fighting gluten that has collected in joints.
    Most doctors will offer a blood test to check for coeliac. However, this isn't the most reliable of tests, even if your blood test comes back negative you may still have coeliac disease, but to identify it a biopsy would be required.
    My gluten sensitivity and pain, whilst close together, never overlapped. After cutting out gluten it was two months before the pain started. Whether the two are connected I'm still not sure about, as apparently both can be brought on by stress, indeed stress can be a trigger for many autoimmune conditions.
    My advice to anyone worried about gluten would be to go to their doctor and keep doing so until they have exhausted all the diagnostic tests that could explain your pain in any other way. Don't let a bored/lazy practitioner fob you off, keep going and remember that it's your health not their's.

    1. I agree with most of what you said, and my advice to go gf is under the assumption that one has either A) already talked to the doctor about it and is on the fence or B) have been tested and still have suspicions that it may be gluten. Sensitivity tests can be very expensive and they are not the most reliable. To me it is the same as doing an elimination where you run the risk of reintroducing dairy or (any other food) that people commonly have a sensitivity to. And you are right, people should not to let the doctors ignore their concerns!