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Study Finds 43% of Crohn's Disease Patients Have RLS

2 min read

woman taking medication

by Bradley Gillespie, PharmD

Since Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) can be caused by so many different factors, Leonard Weinstock, MD, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, and colleagues conducted an investigation to determine if RLS was associated with Crohn's. Their hypothesis was that there may be a relationship, because both disorders are associated with iron deficiency, inflammation and bacterial infections.

The researchers noted that manifestations of Crohn's disease affecting the central nervous system have not been previously reported in the scientific literature.

In this study, the investigators enrolled a total of 272 Crohn's patients with an average age of 47 years. Of these patients, 78% had involvement of their small intestine, and 40% suffered colon involvement. All subjects were surveyed for the presence and prevalence of RLS. Additionally, information on individual clinical characteristics, risk factors and a quantitative relationship between the two disorders was assessed.

The outcome of the study was remarkable, with an incidence of RLS in Crohn's disease patients approaching 43%.

Additionally, in 92% of patients with RLS, these symptoms began during or after the diagnosis of Crohn's disease. Of the 73 patients with RLS, 45% noted that there was a relationship between improvements in symptoms of their Crohn's disease and symptoms of RLS.

This work clearly demonstrates that RLS is a frequent disorder occurring in people who also suffer from Crohn's disease, and RLS may be caused by a factor outside of the gastrointestinal realm, although Crohn's is clearly a gastrointestinal disease.

So, as in other gastrointestinal diseases, such as Celiac disease, it appears likely that these patients are highly susceptible to also being afflicted with RLS. The patients have enough to worry about without dealing with the additional problems associated with RLS. As such, it is advisable that patients with Crohn's disease also be evaluated for RLS, and if needed, treated to relieve their symptoms.

Calm Legs may be an ideal natural remedy approach to alleviating the symptoms of RLS.


Restless Legs sufferer Bradley Gillespie, PharmD, is trained as a clinical pharmacist and has practiced in an industrial setting for the past 20-plus years. Currently, he supports efforts at the National Institutes of Health to develop therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases. He remains a registered pharmacist and operates a medical writing business.