Can a Gluten-free Diet Help with CMT-related Pain?

Jill Price avatar

by Jill Price |

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Two months ago, I had an interesting conversation with my eye doctor while she looked at photos of my eyes.

“Do you have joint pain?” Yes, I have chronic hip and ankle pain due to Charcot-Marie-Tooth, I told her.

“Do you have trouble sleeping?” Yes, all the time.

“Do you have any anxiety?” Yes, but not too bad.

“Are you irritable and moody at times?” Sometimes. I was not sure where she was going with this conversation.

“Did you recently have shingles?” Yes, in April I had a mild case. How did she know that? I never mentioned it to her. “I can tell from your eyes. You are not eating enough green leafy vegetables. Try to eat more; it will help your eyes.”

We talked more as she did my eye exam. Finally, she asked me if I ever tried cutting back on gluten in my diet. I never considered doing that. She explained that gluten can cause inflammation and joint pain in those who are sensitive to the protein. She suggested that I monitor my gluten for a while and see how I feel. I figured there’s no harm in trying. She said I do not need to eliminate it completely but just be aware of it.

I left her office thinking that should not be too hard. I decided to do some research and found an American Academy of Neurology study from February that suggested a gluten-free diet may help with nerve pain.

I decided it was worth a try, as I hate being in pain all the time. So, for the next two months, I watched both my carbs and gluten. I noticed I was sleeping better and in less pain. Could it really be that easy? I thought it must be the combination of going to the gym and eating better that was doing it, not just cutting back on the gluten.

School started and I was not as careful with my diet or going to the gym. I was not sleeping as well, and my hip and ankle hurt again. Hmm. Could managing my pain be as simple as watching my diet and exercising? I plan to get back on track by monitoring my gluten intake again. My hope is that once I am not as tired, I can get back to the gym three to four times a week.

I haven’t been tested for gluten sensitivity, but I plan to discuss it with my primary care physician at my next appointment.

Have you experienced improved health from changing your diet? I would love to hear about your experiences.


Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


Heikki avatar


I have celiac disease, so, I don't eat gluten. I have also very bad Charcot - Maria - Tooth 1a disease. I don't have much pain.

Jill Price avatar

Jill Price

Good to know, maybe there is some truth to it!

Tara avatar


Hi Jill, I have recently been diagnosed with CMT after 40 years of pain and discomfort. I lead a GF life and recently became vegetarian in an effort to improve pain and fatigue. There is a definite correlation between what I eat and how I feel, with about a 2 day lag, so it becomes a little difficult to pin point exactly what’s upset me.

Could you recommend any good studies to read re CMT, everything I seem to find is a little broad and vague.

Jill Price avatar

Jill Price

I agree a lot of the information is vague. I would try CMTA or HNF they both have good information about CMT.

Amy Whitman avatar

Amy Whitman

Hi Jill, I was diagnosed with CMT type 1A at age 36.i was the first person in my family to be diagnosed. It had been misdiagnosed for generations. I am a retired RN and now I am a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I was recently diagnosed with Gluten sensitivity but may have Celiac disease. My CMT symptoms have improved tremendously on a Gluten free diet. My lab work has improved also, CPK levels for myopathy, hormone levels and blood protein levels.
Gluten and wheat are neuro inflammatory and damage the myelin sheath which we cannot repair with CMT TYPE 1A. Every one with CMT should go Gluten free.

Amy Whitman avatar

Amy Whitman

You can also have Gluten ataxia from Gluten exposure. The ataxia has resolved along with other neurological symptoms which I thought were related to CMT TYPE 1A.


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