Why would a Physical Therapist care about gluten consumption?

I’m a PT through and through. My dad is an orthopedic surgeon. I grew up playing with skeletons and looking at anatomy books, and coloring books with pictures of muscles.
I’ve practiced as a PT for 20 years, I became board certified in orthopedics, and I’ve logged 1000’s of hours of continuing education on muscles, bones, and movement.


So why do I ask if my patients consume gluten, dairy, and grains?


Many of my patients get better with manual treatment and exercises. BUT there is a population that doesn’t heal as fast or to the level they want.
It comes down to inflammation and repair.

With injury the normal process is inflammation that signals the body to repair. Often time the inflammation process goes haywire. The repair process is diminished, and the pain and dysfunction continue.
I was getting most of my patients better, the ones I couldn’t nagged me.  Several years back, I had an injury that tore the disks in my neck, and for years after, I would wake up in the morning, and moving my neck felt like shards of glass grinding together.

I eventually changed my diet for multiple reasons. One of the unexpected outcomes is my neck pain is gone.

I went on to study functional medicine and holistic nutrition. There are many studies linking gluten to muscle, joint and nerve pain.









Furthermore, there are studies with growing evidence that gluten can promote more inflammation throughout the body.

Think of inflammation as a wild fire. If I am working on a chronic (long term) swelling at a shoulder tendon (small fire) and the rest of the body is fighting big fires in the gut and the brain, then the body does not have enough resources to put out the fire at the shoulder. No matter how many exercises and hands on work is done at the shoulder, the body will continue to be inflamed.

By providing the body with anti-inflammatory nutrition, and decreasing the inflammatory foods, the internal fires can be fought, and repair can begin.

Tips to change inflammation

  1. Remove gluten containing grains https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/
  2. Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free: clean proteins (fish, organic free-range poultry, pasture raised grass-fed beef, bison, venison, pork)
  3. Add lots and lots of veggies dark leafy greens, onion, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes/yams, squashes
  4. Experiment with spices and herbs: basil, garlic, Himalayan salt, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, sage, thyme




Here are a few of my favorite online resources for recipes and ideas to get you going.