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Joint pain AFTER going gluten free, is this normal?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

After posting the other day querying whether gluten exposure in non-celiacs is dose sensitive I've decided to try another strict gluten-free trial to see if I can find ANYTHING that feels different. As I said before I have no autoimmune issues I know of, slight IBS but magnesium seems to mostly take care of that although bowels still not as easy to empty and solid as in my days of high grain consumption! The only possible issue that has worried me in the past is I have an very sporadically achy big toe joint. My mother has the same and it started with her about my age (pushing 40). Her's has been diagnosed as osteo-arthritis (wear and tear) as opposed to an autoimmune version of the disease but then she says tomatoes really make it hurt which makes me think it might have an autoimmune element in her, and therefore in me too.

My question is that weirdly the last time I went gluten free for a while (end of last year for about six weeks) my toe started aching madly a day or so AFTER I quit. Is this some kind of detox? I only ask because today (second day gluten free) it's aching again. Could be conincidence, it's hot so I'm wearing sandals which aren't as supportive but then that wasn't the case last winter. Has anyone had any experience of joint ache when quitting gluten?

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 11:12 PM

YMMV. I'm one with RA, and cutting out gluten calmed my inflammation quite a bit. In other words, gluten exacerbates my RA. That's so interesting that it had the opposite effect on you. It's mysterious, it seems.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Where did you hear it takes 6 weeks to stop feeling gluten's effects? Why does it take so long?

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:09 PM

immflamation?:)

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 04:24 PM

Thanks! I think you are absolutely right!

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:59 PM

That's so interesting! It isn't so bad this time, but when I gave it up after eating more gluten and never having given it up before it felt JUST like that, far worse than before, some kind of final surge of inflammation sounds right, thanks, Laurie.

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:56 PM

Hi TeaElf, not sure I do add anything in particular which is why I'm not sure it's actually a dietary thing and not something to do with the way I walk/shape or feet/shoes etc. I did think of gout, but don't know what triggers it, might look into it, thanks.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:00 PM

When you remove gluten, what do you add to your diet? I would look at what you were doing that's new, before looking at the absence of gluten. Also, have you considered gout? Often shows up in toes.

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:45 PM

Thanks, Kelly. I'm not altogether sure it's related, I'm slightly clutching at any possible effect of gluten. It is completely random when it twinges - really I can't even say hurts it's so minor compared to what those with true arthritis suffer but obviously I don't want it to get worse. I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

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6 Answers

2
Db20e80aec9abf291a7f685d2b0ed42e

(55)

on December 23, 2012
at 06:53 AM

You said that it's random when it twinges. That sounds very much like my experience of gout. The reason for randomness and also the fact that it comes as a sudden twinge is that the uric crystals of gout build up in the joint as a lump and cause restriction so that movement crushes the inner surfaces of the joint against the lump- that's the twinge! Then the crystals disperse and the next day I wonder what all the fuss was about, only to find it happens again later that day. I should say "happened", past tense, because I got it under control with several things:

By far the most important is hydration- especially in hot weather. I know that's obvious, but the number of times I've felt the twinge at the end of a hot afternoon of concentrated outdoor work and thought "oh dear, I've done it again- forgot to drink"- it must be twenty times. It took about five more times before that to notice the link.

Restrictive footwear that reduces toe movement even when walking. In my case it was steel toe-capped boots. They were very comfortable and well-fitting in every respect, except toe bendability. 2-3 hours in these was enough especially if I didn't keep hydrated.

It seemed to improve when I gave up dairy but I can't be sure.

It seems even better now that I've sort of given up wheat but I do have the odd crumpet and that doesn't cause a flair up.

On a couple of occasions, when I had an attack, I wiggled the relevant toe (not always affecting both) gently to disperse the crystals and stop them forming a lump. I only did this because I read that it was possible to affect the distribution and dispersal of the crystals this way. It seemed to calm down but it was only twice that I did it (the last two times I had an attack) and I can't say for sure it calmed because of that. However, because of the shoe restriction/toe movement issue, I think there is something in this. I wouldn't recommend it if is too painful because you might force the lump against the joint. Once it's formed you have to let it disperse on it's own through hydration and the other recommended dietary measures.

They say cut down on oily fish because purines stimulate uric acid formation. I'm sure that's the case but I'm eating plenty of sardines etc. and always have. I've mostly licked the gout problem (very small twinges once a month- always related to dehydration and/or restrictive footwear).

As a word of encouragement, for five years I couldn't kneel with my toes tucked under, at any time, attack or no attack. It was really painful to force the joint. But now I can with only a tiny bit of stiffness in the right toe and no pain.

Hope that helps you or anyone else.

2
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:40 PM

my understanding is that people with arthritis have high acid levels in their bodies and nightshades (including tomatoes) are among the foods that aggravate the problem. Gluten intolerance also increases the bodies immflamation levels, it sounds like it all works together to aggravate the body....

Found this link: http://www.livestrong.com/article/23887-foods-aggravate-arthritis/

So, it may be that you have a couple different forces at work creating immflamtion and aggravating the arthritis....probably also a detox effect coupled together could be amplifying the pain initially.....I hope over a couple weeks it will clear out of your system and start to heal.....

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:45 PM

Thanks, Kelly. I'm not altogether sure it's related, I'm slightly clutching at any possible effect of gluten. It is completely random when it twinges - really I can't even say hurts it's so minor compared to what those with true arthritis suffer but obviously I don't want it to get worse. I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:09 PM

immflamation?:)

1
43e1e1432e77e38363bd25770dd8806c

(25)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:39 PM

I developed full-blown RA after quitting gluten altogether. I had been getting sore joints in the middle of the night occasionally before this though. My point is that if your body is seriously inflamed, just cutting out gluten isn't going to 'cure' you. In my case, my untreated (and still untreated) hashimoto's was probably driving the inflammation though it had probably been triggered by gut issues initially.

I suspect in your case the pain is probably unrelated to your diet, but it's probably better to stay away from the major sources of inflammation eg. Grains, sugar for now. Might help settle it down quicker.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 11:12 PM

YMMV. I'm one with RA, and cutting out gluten calmed my inflammation quite a bit. In other words, gluten exacerbates my RA. That's so interesting that it had the opposite effect on you. It's mysterious, it seems.

0
F11a47a68bbcf6702b836107d5fe7f99

on September 13, 2012
at 04:21 PM

Here is a great article about gluten free: http://wwww.successwithangela.com/glutenfree

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on June 20, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Coincidence. It takes at least 6 weeks for most people for the effects of gluten to completely leave your system.

I suspect it is your sandals. I have this happen occasionally when I change shoes (I have a bunion.)

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 04:24 PM

Thanks! I think you are absolutely right!

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 13, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Where did you hear it takes 6 weeks to stop feeling gluten's effects? Why does it take so long?

0
3f5bbb444498a24f1a9720d75fa7c903

on June 20, 2012
at 01:12 PM

When I went gluten-free four years ago, I had episodes of massive joint pain in a few areas one at a time - knee, ankle, then back - with lots of heat at each spot. After those, nothing more. It wasn't a matter of contamination with gluten - I was very careful. It just seemed to be some sort of final inflammation effect. Since those first 6 months, no joint pain like that again. I have no explanation for it, but I am not the only one to experience it - the gluten-free forums mention it frequently.

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:59 PM

That's so interesting! It isn't so bad this time, but when I gave it up after eating more gluten and never having given it up before it felt JUST like that, far worse than before, some kind of final surge of inflammation sounds right, thanks, Laurie.

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