Part 1 Of 5 Part Series: Is There An Association Between Scoliosis And A Gluten Intolerance?
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.
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:
1. Scoliosis Research Society http://www.srs.org/
2. Scoliosis Association Inc. http://www.scoliosis-assoc.org/