GI condition may lead to lower back pain

Jun 14 2011
Certain digestive system conditions, like celiac disease, may result in insufficient absorption of nutrients that can impact overall health. A recent study found that the bones of the lower back may be particularly at risk.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition stemming from intolerance for gluten, a compound found in wheat, barley, rye and some oats. Its chief characteristic is damage to the lining of the small intestine that prevents it from absorbing many of the nutrients from food that are necessary for staying healthy. It is more prevalent in Caucasians and people of European ancestry as well as in women, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Recently, a study presented at the 2011 European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress reported that individuals who have celiac disease are 4.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis during their lifetime. The research also found that the vertebrae of the lower back region are at a particular risk of this disorder.

In fact, after comparing the bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine of celiac disease patients to that of healthy controls who were matched for age and gender, the researchers found that the BMD in the former group was significantly lower.

BMD is a common diagnostic measure of osteoporosis, a condition that affects some 10 million people in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Interestingly, comparisons of the femoral neck BMD did not show similar differences in the current study.

Alexander Oldroyd, postgraduate researcher at Lancaster University School of Medicine, said that "these findings may be due to the fact that the bone in the lumbar spine is spongy, less dense and weaker in comparison to the femoral neck, causing it to be more susceptible to the detrimental effects of celiac disease."

He added that further research is needed to see if these results may help in identifying better treatments for the condition.