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Celiac Disease is associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Posted on September 7th, 2009 by Alison Read 5 Comments - Add Your Own »

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about a small study that connected Restless Legs Syndrome with Celiac Disease. A new larger study, that will be published in the medical journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, confirms that screening for celiac disease and implementing a gluten-free diet can help many people suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome.

Here is the study in brief:

PURPOSE: Celiac disease may be associated with restless legs syndrome (RLS) because of an association with iron deficiency. Often, RLS negatively affects quality of life but may remain undiagnosed. This study evaluated the association between celiac disease and RLS.

RESULTS: The incidence of RLS among 85 patients with celiac disease was 35%, with a prevalence of 25% compared with 10% of spouses (P < 0.02). In 79% of patients with RLS and celiac disease, neuromuscular symptoms began during or after onset of gastrointestinal symptoms. Iron deficiency was present in 40% of celiac patients with active RLS compared with 6% of patients without RLS (P < 0.001). After 6 months of a gluten-free diet, RLS symptoms improved in 50% of 28 patients.

CONCLUSION: Screening for celiac disease in patients with RLS is important since this commonly overlooked silent disease may be a correctable factor for some patients with idiopathic RLS.

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  1. I’m sending this to my friend at Boulevards of Travel…..thanks for all the good information…MIL

  2. I had severe symptoms from restless leg syndrome. When I was finally diagnosed with gluten intolerance I noticed a miraculous improvement in the RLS once the healing of the gluten free diet kicked in. I recently was given a meal containing gluten and apart from all the usual nasty symptoms, the RLS started to come back. Hopefully it will retreat again now that my diet is back under control.It is good to know that this association was not “all in my head” as some naysayers are bound to conclude.

  3. Jan,
    Thank you for sharing your story! Many people suffering from symptoms caused by gluten are told by doctors it is in their heads — definitely not!

  4. I was tested for RLS and they told me I did not have it. Allthough when I went GF all of the symptoms seemed to disappear. It seems like everyday there are new problems associated with Celiac’s Disease. All the more reason to be very strict on this diet and lifestyle change.

  5. Can you tell me how long it took to feel a difference in your rls after you stopped all gluten? Thank you so much! Anne

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