Celiac disease is a disorder of the small intestines. The main cause is the inability of the small intestines to absorb the protein component known as gluten present in some foods. As this occurs, the body then fails to take in the required nutrients it needs for proper growth and development.

It should be understood, though, that while the disease primarily involves the digestive tract, it is associated with other illnesses and can affect the other parts of the body. Among the diseases that have a link with celiac sprue include diabetes, osteoporosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ataxia, vasculitis as well as certain neurological disorders such as schizophrenia.

As celiac disease also affects the nervous system, nerve problems can affect the extremities such as the feet. Common symptoms are foot pain, burning sensation, numbness. The pain affecting the feet can either be a sharp or dull one. This condition is referred to as neuropathy which leads a person to feel like he or she is wearing socks or gloves when in reality, they’re not. Weakness of the muscles, numbness, tingling or reduced sensation in the body and face or loss of a person’s sense of touch may also be experienced.

This inherited autoimmune disorder of the small intestines is considered one of the most undiagnosed conditions. It is because the symptoms are very similar to other conditions. It is only when laboratory tests such as blood tests and internal biopsy are performed that physicians are able to confirm the presence of such a disease. For peripheral neuropathy, tests needed may include a neurological exam, electromyography and nerve conduction velocity test.

To prevent celiac disease from getting worse, physicians normally recommended patients to avoid foods containing gluten. A gluten-free diet should not have wheat, rye, barley, oats and other cereals as well as processed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables plus protein rich food are the best diet. People diagnosed with celiac sprue who follow a gluten-free diet are known to have improved their health considerably and reduced foot pain.

For foot pain and other peripheral neuropathy symptoms, certain drugs that cause such symptoms may be discontinued. In addition, non-drug treatments that can lessen pain may be recommended. These include wearing loose shoes specifically therapeutic shoes, soaking feet in ice water and avoiding standing and walking for long periods. Pain relievers are normally prescribed as well.

Wearing of footwear that is not very tight should be carefully considered. With looser shoes, there’s less pressure to the feet and they become more relaxed compared to using smaller shoes that could only lead to sores, hammertoe and bunions. And since celiac disease sufferers have less sensation in their hands and feet, they may not easily notice if their feet become sore or get a cut. This is more risky as the condition could eventually result in infection without the sufferer being aware of it. For this reason, proper foot care apart from following a strictly gluten-free diet should be observed to keep the condition from worsening.


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