Back pain and sacroiliitis in long-standing adult celiac disease: a cross-sectional and follow-up study

Rheumatol Int. 2010 Feb;30(4):455-60. doi: 10.1007/s00296-009-0979-3. Epub 2009 Jun 6.


There have been only scattered reports suggesting that musculoskeletal manifestations including back pain and sacroiliac joint involvement may be associated with celiac disease. In order to confirm this issue in a larger cohort, rheumatic manifestations were analyzed in 21 adult celiac patients using a comprehensive clinical, laboratory and radiological analysis. The diagnosis of celiac disease was based on the histopathology of jejunal biopsy specimens. The mean duration of celiac disease was 15 (0-31) years. All patients were currently on gluten-free diet and none of the patients had gastrointestinal symptoms at the time of the study. Using various imaging techniques, involvement of the sacroiliac joints was confirmed in 70% of celiac patients. Imaging revealed different morphological changes in the sacroiliac joint, e.g. accumulation of synovial fluid, synovitis, erosion with concomitant sclerosis, sacroiliitis or calcification of the ligament. These changes probably represent different clinical stages and/or manifestations of the same process. In a follow-up study of eight patients, after 11 years on a gluten-free diet, the great majority of patients had no clinical symptoms; yet, a subclinical progression of the sacroiliac joint involvement could be verified. Our results suggest the importance of regular rheumatologic follow-up of patients with celiac disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis / epidemiology
  • Arthritis / pathology*
  • Arthritis / physiopathology
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / pathology*
  • Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology
  • Celiac Disease / pathology*
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hungary / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sacroiliac Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Sacroiliac Joint / pathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed