Are Coeliac And Fibromyalgia Linked?

Are Coeliac And Fibromyalgia Linked?

Is there a link between the autoimmune diseases Coeliac and Fibromyalgia, the amount of people with both, it does make you wonder.
In a previous blog I talked about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but as my fatigue and pain got a bit worse, my GP and I started to consider Fibromyalgia, leading to this blog post.

I think it is already common knowledge that Coeliac and gluten intolerance have been linked back to many other disorders, whether it is a symptom of something else or a bi-product of another disease. Already linked to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Oesteoporosis and depression to name a few, another illness it could be linked too is Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a pain disorder which has many symptoms, there is no test for FMS, the only way to get a diagnosis is to rule out anything else that causes similar symptoms, a long process as illnesses from Multiple Sclerosis to Vitamin B12 deficiency and Anaemia can cause all the same problems.

The main symptoms of FMS are (although the symptoms are in no way restricted to just these):-
  • Widespread pain in joints and muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Un-refreshing sleep
  • Brain Fog
  • Headaches
  • Increased menstrual pain in women
  • Depression
  • Irritable bowel
  • Low immune system
  • Light sensitivity
  • Mood swings
FMS tends to exist along side other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (this is also sometimes believed to be the exact same condition as FMS but minus the widespread pain),Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Anxiety and even Coeliac. FMS is often misdiagmosed as Coeliac, just as Coeliac is misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome as the symptoms are so similar and in some cases gluten free diets have been known to help.

Digestive diseases are a common problem associated with Fibromyalgia, people with FMS tend to have increased symptoms during times of stress and anxiety, it is even believed that stress is one of the main causes of FMS, and the same is also said with Coeliac. Many people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia have experienced severe stress (loss of job, death of a relative etc) which in turn triggers the illness, the same can happen with Coeliacs too, the person will have always carried the gene but stress can trigger it.

The treatment for both conditions are different; for Coeliac a gluten free diet prevents further damage to the villi in the intestines, however the treatment for FMS is pain relief, this varies in everyone from ibruprofen to morphine strength pain killers, in some cases antidepressants or even anti-seizure medication are used to help the condition too, but also according the a Medscape survey avoiding gluten can also help ease fibromyaglia symptoms.

It has also been noted that food sensitivies can be caused by fibromyalgia, the most common being gluten, dairy and sugar. If you have been diagnosed with Coeliac, maybe it would be a good idea to think about any other symptoms you might have but didn't initially think were connected, is it possible you could be misdiagnosed and you actually have Fibromyalgia instead, or like in many causes you have a multitude of autoimmune issues? It has been shown in a good few clinical trials that removing gluten from the diet can help reduce symptoms, so maybe your Coeliac diagnosis was negative but you think it should be positive, maybe you should consider FMS as an alternative to what could be causing your pain.

The question really is gluten intolerance/Coeliac a cause of Fibromyalgia or is Fibromyalgia a cause of gluten intolerance/Coeliac. Either way, there are trials and surveys which do imply that the two are linked and even in my case I can see a connection. I lost my job twice (once redundancy, and then because of ill health, this would be the stressor) and developed what we thought was Coeliac until I tested negative even though removing gluten from my diet helped, after a few months I got other symptoms, some days I can't get out of bed due to fatigue or pain. Is this Fibromyalgia rather than gluten intolerance? That is something I am currently undergoing tests for. Which illness caused the other one? That's something I doubt I will ever figure out.

But please, just think about it, if you are still experiencing unexplained pains and everyone still thinks Coeliac or IBS, maybe it is worth trying to find out if its "something else", and those things are just a symptom.

Your Comments

Interesting read, my dads partner has Fibromyalgia, and I know how much she struggles with the symptoms

Jamie - 16th January 2015

I was diagnosed with Coeliac first, then Fibromyalgia about 10 years later. No-one has ever mentioned they could be connected before and most of the information relating to F.M.S. is from American sites and not very helpful - a bit like my Consultant!

Sam - 26th February 2015

Iv been diagnosed with Coeliac for 10 years now but for the last 4/5 years if been in sever pain which my doctors thought was endometriosis, iv had 2 laperoscopies done and a hormone implant in my stomach. This is the first time things have made sence, is there test for this? I will need to get back to my doctor now. I get bad pains in my legs, pelvis and back, during my period it's 10 times worse, I have never even heard of this until now. Thank you

carol sullivan - 5th June 2015

I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, my Sister is a confirmed coeliac, my Mum finds that if she avoids gluten her IBS is not as bad, but if she haves some gluten, she becomes bloated. My Nan suffers with divaticular (I think that is how it is spelt) and so does my Mum. I don't find avoiding gluten makes a difference to my ibs, my IBS is triggered by stress and/or anxiety.


Liz - 6th June 2015

I was diagnosed with fibro in 2007/2008 after suffering with different problems for years, my dad got diagnosed with celiac several years ago and in 2013 i got diagnosed with Celiac disease too

Gina - 29th June 2015

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 12 years ago and last year was confirmed a coeliac too, both glare up at the same time normally which is a Hugh pain, never knew they could be connected but had wondered why I had two fatigue causing complaints!

Mary - 29th June 2015

This is really interesting and something ive wondered about before as my Dad has celiacs and fibro, my twin sister has celiacs and have fibro but tested negative for celiacs.

Jeannie - 25th August 2015

Is there any research that anyone has seen that links polymyalgia rheumatica to Coeliac. I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica about 7 years ago and coeliac 3 years ago,, but despite sticking to a G F diet I still have pains

Julie - 13th February 2016

I was diagnosed with Coeliacs in 1980, the first in my family. Since then two of my sisters have it and now my daughter. As far as the stress trigger factor is concerned we all started with Coeliacs after either a death or breakup of a marriage. Three out of the four of us were diagnosed at the age of 35 and it is only the female side of the family affected. Two years ago I went to Malta to celebrate my husbands 80th birthday. We went on a bus journey that was so bad that we had to get off before we got to where we were going. Hanging on to the straps to stop myself falling over as so many people getting on the bus at every stop, I was in so much pain that we had to get off as I was crying and embarrassed because of it. I think the stress of that journey started my fibromyalgia. Never again will we go back to Malta. I now wonder, after reading this blog, if my sisters and my daughter are in line for fibromyalgia. They all have fatigue, back pains and joint and muscle pains. I hate the thought that I might have passed this disease on to my daughter. I do get quite depressed at times, and often get pains in my upper back like someone is stabbing me with a red hot needle. Anyone else get this sort of thing?

Dorothy Minton - 13th February 2016

Have been severely allergic to gluten for 20years, 3years ago developed fibromalgia, was in agony constantly, gave up sugar and dairy, not easy to do it took months to get it right and since then have been pain free, it seems my wellbeing is totally my responsibility, no help or understanding from gp,s on any level. This field of medicine needs so much more research.

Dawn Steward - 14th February 2016

Ceoliac from birth then diagnosed with arthritis and fibromyalgia

James J Daly - 11th November 2016

I have been suffering from Fibromyalgia for the last 3 years and I was totally unfit. One of my friends told me about and PeaPlex is very helpful therefore.

Lily - 17th November 2017

I am Coeliac, recently my body aches not just aches but sore to touch certain areas, concerned in case I had a virus or another ailment, Googled and found this info, makes sense. At hospital soon, will discuss this.

Catherine - 7th February 2018

My 14 year old grand daughter, who lives with me, has just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was a struggle to get a diagnoses as I was told that children couldn't get it and then they don't call it that any longer. I didn't get told what they do call it. However, after a while they did say that that is what she has. They are also testing her now for coeliac. I had to push for any sort of result but I wasn't prepared to wait for years as I had been told I might have to. I don't have any of these diseases but I couldn't sit back and watch her suffer until they would be prepared to say she had fybro. Waiting for all the test results was difficult but worth it. I know it's not the best news to have been told this diagnosis but at least now we know what we are dealing with. I didn't know that fybro and coeliac could be connected. I am so glad that I read your blog as it makes so much sense now seeing what I see with her.

Vivien Booth - 17th February 2020

Submit a Comment

Want to leave a comment on this Blog? Feel free to join the discussion!

Search Blogs

Looking for something specific? Search our blogs using the form below.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Enter your email address below to get our fortnightly newsletter sent straight to our inbox!