Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance?

January 3, 2011 · Filed Under Scoliosis 

Over the past six years, I have talked to many people with celiac disease and scoliosis. This peaked my curiosity. Could the ingestion of gluten trigger a cascade of immune reactions, eventually leading to the development of scoliosis? This is an intriguing question and I believe the connection is likely. With all forms of gluten intolerance, it seems very plausible that autoimmune factors (anti-bone antibodies), inflammation, and malabsorption of nutrients could lead to a soft, bendable bone structure and the development of scoliosis.

Why haven’t doctors  investigated this possible connection? The answer is a sad reality. Many people with a gluten intolerance, including celiac disease (CD), dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) and non-celiac gluten intolerance remain undiagnosed. For example, with CD, over 90% of individuals remain undiagnosed. Likely, it is even higher in non-celiac gluten intolerance since it is more under-recognized by doctors than celiac disease. Unfortunately, many doctors are not very aware of the many elusive symptoms associated with gluten intolerance and as a result, only the symptoms (ie. possibly scoliosis) are diagnosed, not the disease. Typically, it isn’t on the doctor’s radar so it often isn’t investigated as a cause.

What is Scoliosis?

When a spine is viewed from the front or back, it is normally straight. With scoliosis, the spine curves to the right or left in the lumbar or the thoracic area. The vertebra become twisted and the ribs, attached to the vertebra, abnormally protrude. This can lead to thoracic problems and in severe cases breathing problems can occur. 

It seems to be more common in adolescence, but it can occur in infancy, childhood, or adulthood. The prevalence of mild scoliosis appears to be fairly equal between boys and girls. However, the more severe forms of scoliosis seem to be more common in girls.

Approx 80-85% of individuals with scoliosis have idiopathic scoliosis which means the cause of the scoliosis is unknown. This type of scoliosis can be hereditary (like CD). Just like gluten intolerance, there doesn’t appear to be a racial or ethnic difference in prevalence.

The Series

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be exploring the possible connection between scoliosis and gluten. Please join in, make comments on the posts and share your stories if you have have experienced this connection or if you have any suggestions that may help others who are wondering whether their scoliosis may be caused by the ingestion of gluten.

The Series Includes:

Part 2 Of 5 Part Series: How Could A Gluten Intolerance Cause Scoliosis

Part 3 Of 5 Part Series: How Could A Gluten Intolerance Cause Scoliosis In Various Age Groups?

Part 4 Of 5 Part Series: How Could A Lectin Intolerance Cause Scoliosis>

Part 5 Of 5 Part Series: Some Final Thoughts About Gluten And Scoliosis

References

1. Scoliosis Research Society http://www.srs.org/

2. Scoliosis Association Inc. http://www.scoliosis-assoc.org/

Comments

16 Responses to “Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance?”

  1. Nadya King on January 4th, 2011 12:13 am

    Fascinating! I have lordosis – sway back – & am gluten sensitive! My grown daughter had the genetic testing done summer of 2009, & I realized several issues I had have cleared up since going gluten free! My mom & son also had/ have lordosis – I wouldn’t be surprised to find there’s a connection wit that as well! I look forward to the series!

  2. Shelly on January 4th, 2011 10:09 am

    Nadya

    Thank you for your comment and interest in this series.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if lordosis is associated with a gluten intolerance. There can be many other factors that can contribute as well, but gluten is also one factor to consider.

  3. Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance? Dermatitis on January 4th, 2011 6:49 pm

    [...] this article: Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance? Tagged with: connection • curiosity • development • ingestion • [...]

  4. Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance? « CeliacFacts on January 14th, 2011 8:19 am

    [...] Read More… [...]

  5. lisa on January 17th, 2011 8:37 am

    I cant seem to read parts 4 and 5 I have scoliosis and celiac disease and was very interested in this article

  6. Shelly on January 17th, 2011 3:01 pm

    Thank you for your message. I fixed the links:)

  7. Monica Dewart on July 1st, 2011 8:21 am

    While doing some research on lectin intolerance, I stumbled across this series of articles. I just had to say, I have both celiac disease and scoliosis. I have an MTHFR genetic defect (I lack the enzyme which utilizes the nutrient folate) which causes my celiac disease. It’s also responsible for midline defects (such as scoliosis) in the children of mothers who have MTHFR defects. Could first cause of the scoliosis/gluten intolerance connection actually be MTHFR?

  8. Shelly on August 9th, 2011 10:28 pm

    Monica,

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story.

    The possible MTHFR link that you mentioned is interesting. I haven’t heard anything about MTHFR causing celiac disease. However, CD could make a folic acid deficiency worse since CD can cause malabsorption issues.

    I can certainly understand how MTHFR could contribute to scoliosis by affecting the fetus though:)

    Shelly

  9. Megan on December 16th, 2011 5:10 pm

    I agree I too have scoliosis and Celiac disease. Recently I was diagnosed with Celiac and found DH all over my body once the inflammation had gone down. I would love to learn more!

  10. Liz on January 1st, 2012 7:02 am

    I am a 50 year old female with scoliosis (discovered at age 11, treated with surgery) and have just recently discovered that I have homozygous MTHFR mutations for C677T after suffering for many years with food/drug allergies and chemical sensitivities. I started taking methylated (i.e. activated and available) forms of folate and B12 in late November 2011 and within just days experienced not only improvement with my allergies and chemical sensitivities, but unexpected relief from chronic back/whole body pain I’d suffered with for several years. My understanding is that the supplements lowered my homeocysteine levels and, therefore, reduced inflammation–if I stop taking the supplements, the pain and allergies return. This leads me to believe there could definitely be a connection between scoliosis and MTHFR and would love to connect with others who are exploring these issues. I’m being treated by a top-notch orthopedic specialist at a research university and am going to suggest a study along these lines. Write me if you’re interested (visitliz@hotmail.com). Thanks for this site and best wishes to all!

  11. Liz on January 1st, 2012 7:39 am

    Sorry for the typo, I meant *homocysteine*.

  12. Karen Tolar on June 21st, 2012 9:00 am

    Thanks for the interesting article as my 13 year old has asymptomatic celiac and doc has noted a slight curve of her spine. (I had scoliosis and wore brace for 2 years). Wanted to let you know the links to part 2 and 3 are not working.

  13. Laura Babnik on October 10th, 2012 2:48 pm

    the links to part 2 and part 3 of the scoliosis link to lectins theory
    does not work.
    are they still accessible? thanks for this! :)

  14. Shelly on October 10th, 2012 7:43 pm

    Thank you for informing me. I’ll try to fix this soon:)

    For now, try this link to access the posts http://celiacnurse.com/category/scoliosis/

    Shelly

  15. Lisa on July 14th, 2013 5:10 pm

    Both my son, and my cousin’s son have severe lordosis and distended bellies. Within 2 weeks of going gluten free, BOTH of their backs straightened out, and their tummies reduced to a normal size (down 2 pant sizes). Because my cousin informed me of the link between gluten intolerance and lordosis/belly distention, I assumed it was well documented in the medical community. As I look for more information, I’m finding there’s almost none. I hope someone will make this a priority for research, because linking these two issues is BIG.
    Lisa

  16. Haylee on August 19th, 2013 7:02 pm

    I was diagnosed with celiac in 2001 at the age of 10. I was later on diagnosed with scoliosis my junior year of high school. I had been tested for scoliosis 3 times in middle school during those 6 or 7 years but they never found it until 2007/2008. Which does not make since to me unless I didn’t have it until later in life. Although I thought that you were born with it. After reading this article, it makes more sense now. I was still growing and developing some during my sophomore and junior years of high school. And maybe it was not really noticeable until then.

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