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Muscles. When they are chronically tired, hurt or do not work properly, our lives are impacted. Unfortunately, it is easy to get used to how we feel and grow to think, "That's just me." 

Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease affect the muscles in a number of negative ways. What may seem like "normal" aches and pains can be a symptom of an underlying nutrient deficiency or health condition that can be improved nutritionally or treated by a doctor. Discover the various ways gluten impacts the muscles below. Then, read the Tip that follows to find out how to fix muscle problems.

Please email us questions or topic suggestions at

Thank You!

-John Libonati, Publisher
Gluten Free Works Health Recovery Center


How Gluten Affects the Muscles


Muscles disorders involve dysfunction, wasting, and pain of muscle fibers and muscle groups that may be due to malnutrition, hormonal imbalance, or autoimmune attack. 

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle will result in muscle wasting because unused muscles do not grow and eventually atrophy. The sedentary person is frequently blamed for being lazy. But, the effects of gluten can make one sedentary. Gluten sensitivity reactions and malnutrition from celiac disease will cause a child or adult to be sedentary because their bodies are continually mounting an attack on gluten or they do not have the energy to be active.


If the muscles do not get the nutrients they need, they will waste away. 

Lack of proper nutrients in the diet will mean the muscles and connective tissue do not get what they need to grow and maintain themselves. Gluten and indirectly cause someone not to eat the nutrients he needs. If a person experiences nausea when he eats or craves carbohydrates because he is chronically hypoglycemic from malabsorption, his diet will be unbalanced. Protein is needed for muscle growth, but it can only be absorbed if it is consumed. 

Consumption is only half the battle. Protein must be absorbed and gluten can lead to malnutrition by way of malabsorption in celiac disease. Malfunctioning glands that do not release enzymes necessary for protein digestion mean food is not prepared for absorption.  Chronically inflamed intestines and flattened villi 
are unable to absorb nutrients.

Overexercise can be complicit in muscle wasting and weakness. A body that has trouble digesting and absorbing protein will not be able to build muscle that is broken down during exercise. That said, a person who is sick may crave the endorphin release that exercise provides. Such a person will exercise, and possible overexercise beyond what his body can handle. 

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can cause muscle pain. Gluten is major culprit, but potatoes and other foods can cause inflammation and painful muscles. Finding which foods cause the individual pain is important for alleviating muscle pains. 


Certain diseases will affect the muscles. Diseases that affect the nervous system, bones, and connective tissue will affect the muscles as well, since they are all connected. Most diseases associated with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are reversible, so identifying and correcting these can improve or cure muscle issues. Even autoimmune diseases can see improvement if gluten is a trigger, but is removed from the diet.

Note: During pregnancy, maternal vitamin D deficiency has a major impact on structural development and gene expression profile of skeletal muscles in newborns which results in smaller muscles.

Tip: Correcting Muscle Pain, Weakness and Wasting
Review the muscle disorders below. Follow the 6 Step Process for treating each disorder. If nutrient deficiencies  are implicated, visit the deficiency pages to discover how to replenish the missing nutrient(s). Note  the other symptoms and disorders that deficiency causes to determine whether the same deficiency is causing other health problems that you or your doctor may not have linked to a deficiency.



Gluten and Muscle Disorders

Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease affect the muscles in a variety of ways. Disorders range from mild to deadly. Click on the images below to find out what you need to do to correct the problem.
Chronic Fatigue, Lassitude, Tiredness

What Is Chronic Fatigue? Chronic fatigue or lassitude is a state of weariness not relieved by rest and the inability to do normal physical or mental work. Q: What are causes of chronic fatigue? A: Chronic fatigue can be a ...

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Hypokalemic Rhabdomyolysis in Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis

What Is Hypokalemic Rhabdomyolysis? Hypokalemic rhabdomyolysis is an acute and sometimes fatal disease due to its rapid progression of muscle destruction when untreated. It is characterized by the accumulation of by-products of skeletal muscle destruction in the renal (kidney) tubules ...

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Muscle Spasm And Muscle Cramps 

What Are Muscle Spasm, Muscle Cramps? Muscle spasm and muscle cramps are  disorders of muscle function caused by painful involuntary contractions of affected skeletal muscles characterized by limited movement. Q: What is the difference between muscle spasm and cramps? A: ...

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What Is Osteomalacia? Osteomalacia is a metabolic bone disorder that causes abnormal skeletal changes characterized by generalized reduction in bone density (bone softening) in adults and pseudofractures (apparant on x-ray) with muscular weakness and bone tenderness. Bones have the normal amount of ...

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What Is Tetany? Tetany is a painful feature of low blood calcium or low blood magnesium causing hyperexcitability of all nerves which in turn stimulates involuntary sudden, intermittent and repetitious tonic spasms of muscles. Tonic spasms are steady rather than jerky. Causes include ...

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

What Is Chronic Syndrome Fatigue? Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating illness characterized by persistent or relapsing overwhelming and incapacitating fatigue not relieved by rest, having a definite onset and often accompanied by numerous symptoms involving various body systems. This ...

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What Is Laryngospasm? Laryngospasm is an acute disorder of the larynx that is characterized by life-threatening spasms of the muscles of the larynx located in the throat. Laryngospasm is a rare feature of hypocalcemia (low blood calcium level) characterized by ...

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Muscle Wasting 

What Is Muscle Wasting? Muscle wasting, or atrophy, is a muscle disorder resulting from the loss of muscle tissue which is characterized by thin muscles that have reduced strength and endurance. What Is Muscle Wasting In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten ...

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Osteomalacic Myopathy

What Is Osteomalacic Myopathy? Osteomalacic myopathy is a major feature of osteomalacia that is characterized by painful muscle weakness involving the thighs and upper arms and hyperreflexia. Q: What is hyperreflexia? A: Hyperreflexia means the action of reflexes is increased. ...

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Weight Loss, Unexpected/ Inability To Gain Weight

What Is Unexpected Weight Loss? Unexpected weight loss is unintentional loss of body mass composition or inability to gain weight marked by decreased serum proteins and increased stool fat.1 What Is Unexpected Weight Loss In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity? ...

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What Is Dermatomyositis? Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune systemic disease of the connective tissue that is characterized by inflammatory and debilitating degenerative changes in the muscles and in the skin.  Dermatomyositis results in symmetric, proximal muscle weakness of limbs (upper arms and ...

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Chronic Muscle Pain and Tenderness

What Is Chronic Muscle Pain And Tenderness? Muscle pain and tenderness, also called myalgia, is a disorder of muscle tissue. Muscle pain that is ongoing or chronic can result from a variety of disorders, infections, overuse, injury, as an unwanted ...

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Muscle Weakness 

What Is Muscle Weakness? Muscle weakness is the impaired status of muscle function characterized by decreased or low muscle strength and inability to perform normal work such as lifting a pot off the stove. Q: How do muscles work? A: ...

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What Is Polymyositis? Polymyositis is a body-wide connective tissue disease resulting from autoimmune attack of skeletal muscles that is characterized by inflammatory and degeneratory changes. The course is unpredictable being marked by spontaneous flare-ups and remissions. Polymyositis can begin slowly or abruptly according ...

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