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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Restless Leg Syndrome Common in Adults with Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Restless Leg Syndrome and Celiac Disease (photo courtesy of Geraint Warlow)

    Celiac.com 04/22/2010 - Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological condition, with generally unknown causes, that is sometimes associated with specific disorders such as iron deficiency. Even though celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, people with celiac disease often suffer from associated malabsorption-related iron deficiency anemia and peripheral neuropathy.

    A team of researchers recently set out to assess rates of restless leg syndrome in adults with celiac disease. The team included Marcello Moccia, MS, Maria Teresa Pellecchia, MD, PhD, Roberto Erro, MD, Fabiana Zingone, MD, Sara Marelli, MD, Damiano Giuseppe Barone, MD, Carolina Ciacci, MD, Luigi Ferini Strambi, MD, and Paolo Barone, MD, PhD.


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    They are variously associated with the Department of Systematic Pathology, the Department of Neurological Sciences at University Federico II and IDC Hermitage Capodimonte, Naples, Italy, and the Sleep Disorders Center, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.

    For their study, the team enrolled 100 adult patients for features of celiac disease, iron metabolism, clinical and neurological conditions, and enrolled another 100 people from the general population as control subjects. These subjects were matched for age and sex.

    To determine the presence of restless leg syndrome in celiac disease patients and controls, the team applied the four essential diagnostic criteria of the International restless leg syndrome Study Group, in addition to conducting a neurological examination. They gauged restless leg syndrome severity using the International restless leg syndrome Study Group rating scale.

    The results showed a 31% prevalence of restless leg syndrome among subjects with celiac disease, which was much higher than the 4% prevalence in the control population (P < 0.001). The average restless leg syndrome severity among celiac disease patients was moderate (17 ± 6.5).

    In the subjects with celiac disease, the team saw no significant correlation between restless leg syndrome and either gluten-free diet or iron metabolism; even though the celiac patients with restless leg syndrome showed significantly lower hemoglobin levels than celiac patients without restless leg syndrome (P = 0.003).

    They also found no connection between restless leg syndrome and other possible causes of secondary restless leg syndrome, including signs of peripheral neuropathy, pregnancy, end-stage renal disease, and pharmacological treatments.

    Their study increases the number of neurological disorders associated with celiac disease, and supports screening all celiac disease patients for restless leg syndrome.

    SOURCE: Movement Disorders; 13 Apr 2010
    DOI 10.1002/mds.22903


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    Interesting connection with iron. I was taught that restless leg syndrome was resulting from magnesium deficiency. Which would make sense why people with celiac would have it, considering the malabsorption issues we have before giving up gluten and healing.

     

    In myself, I noticed it when I would consume excess caffeine, then restless leg syndrome would pop up. Simply taking excess magnesium supplements for a couple of days does the trick--and backing off the caffeine.

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    Guest Betty Kneisl

    Posted

    I am a 69 year old female who have had restless leg syndrome for many years, and was just diagnosed by saliva tests that I am gluten sensitive. I also have osteoporosis and had 6 painful spinal fractures in the past 2 years from malabsorption of nutrition over the years. I go to a nutritionist and am taking many bone building vitamins.

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    I have restless leg syndrome, and celiac. This article is very interesting, and I hope much more research is done on this connection.

    Restless leg syndrome symptoms are how I found out I had celiac. My symptoms were not restless leg syndrome but were due to iron deficiency anemia. Severely low hemoglobin tests triggered endoscopy to search for Gastric intestinal bleed causes. Results showed celiac not the scarier things they thought they would find.

     

    I seldom have gastric intestinal symptoms when exposed to gluten. Primarily my reactions are related to absorption deficiencies which make it tougher to tell when I've been exposed to something accidentally.

     

    Combination of short term iron supplements and long term gluten free diet have resolved my jumpy legs.

     

    I wonder how many other people are taking neurological drugs to treat celiac symptoms.

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    Guest Charlene Travelstead

    Posted

    Restless leg syndrome symptoms are how I found out I had celiac. My symptoms were not restless leg syndrome but were due to iron deficiency anemia. Severely low hemoglobin tests triggered endoscopy to search for Gastric intestinal bleed causes. Results showed celiac not the scarier things they thought they would find.

     

    I seldom have gastric intestinal symptoms when exposed to gluten. Primarily my reactions are related to absorption deficiencies which make it tougher to tell when I've been exposed to something accidentally.

     

    Combination of short term iron supplements and long term gluten free diet have resolved my jumpy legs.

     

    I wonder how many other people are taking neurological drugs to treat celiac symptoms.

    I have painful restless leg syndrome and have had it for over 30 years. I do take medication for it and they are still not quite under control. I also found out last July that I have celiac too. I follow the celiac plan faithfully as I have had a few instances that made me very sick.

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    Having had the problem for as long as I can remember, I am always interested in looking at information on this subject. I was first informed that this was a 'circulatory problem' and was advised to drink red wine. This seemed to alleviate what was 'happening' to my legs, however, as age grew, so did the strength of the discomfort. Several years ago, my doctor informed me that what I had was restless leg syndrome.

    I find particular interest in reading these articles, the search for what causes restless leg syndrome and the cure.

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    Actually, I found a terrific product for restless legs Syndrome. It is an herbal lotion in a roll-on type bottle. It has herbs to quell over-active nerves and also ones to relax muscles. My Mom uses it for leg cramps and I tried it on my restless legs. It worked great. I was really surprised because it worked in like, 5 minutes. I've tried lots of supplements and stuff and nothing has worked before. The stuff is called Leg Relaxer. You should probably try it for your restless legs. No sense dancing when you should be sleeping.

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    Restless leg syndrome symptoms are how I found out I had celiac. My symptoms were not restless leg syndrome but were due to iron deficiency anemia. Severely low hemoglobin tests triggered endoscopy to search for Gastric intestinal bleed causes. Results showed celiac not the scarier things they thought they would find.

     

    I seldom have gastric intestinal symptoms when exposed to gluten. Primarily my reactions are related to absorption deficiencies which make it tougher to tell when I've been exposed to something accidentally.

     

    Combination of short term iron supplements and long term gluten free diet have resolved my jumpy legs.

     

    I wonder how many other people are taking neurological drugs to treat celiac symptoms.

    I had RLS randomly for years. It was very frustrating when I was trying to sleep. I have been on a strict gluten-free diet for 3 years. I had forgotten I ever had that symptom until I read about this just now. I always thought it was a calcium/magnesium deficiency... I used to take loads and loads of supplements to try and figure out why I wasn't healthy... I wasn't absorbing nutrients! It took 20 years but now I know... absolutely no gluten!

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    Guest Barbara Cashmore

    Posted

    Have been bothered with restless legs for years as well as food allergies. Recently became quite ill and had severe RLS. Have cut out dairy and gluten and symptoms have improved. I found the article very interesting.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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