Restless legs syndrome (Willis-Ekbom disease) and growing pains: are they the same thing?
A side-by-side comparison of the diagnostic criteria for both and recommendations for future research
Arthur S. Walters a, Arthur.Walters at Vanderbilt.edu; David Gabelia b, Birgit Frauscher b
a Department of Neurology, Sleep Division, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
b Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria
There has been no previous side-by-side comparison of the diagnostic criteria for restless legs syndrome (RLS)(Willis-Ekbom disease) and growing pains. In our review, we explore this comparison emphasizing overlaps and disconnects, summarize recent literature exploring the relationship between the 2 entities, and make suggestions for future research.
There is considerable overlap in the diagnostic criteria for childhood RLS and growing pains. The literature also indicates that RLS and growing pains more commonly occur together than one would expect based on chance alone, and the family histories of RLS and growing pains often are overlapping. Leg rubbing to obtain relief from leg discomfort is common to both disorders, though walking to obtain relief seems unique to RLS. Childhood RLS also has been reported to be painful in up to 45% of cases.
The development of standard diagnostic criteria is necessary to move forward in the field of growing pains research. A quantitative and validated rating scale for growing pains severity already exists. Because of the clinical and genetic similarity between RLS and growing pains, studies that parallel those previously performed in RLS patients are recommended for growing pains patients. For example, a genome wide association study in growing pains patients of all possible genes with particular attention to those identified as related to RLS and a therapeutic trial of medications known to be effective in RLS would be welcome. Abnormalities in vitamin D metabolism also may be common to both disorders.
PDF is attached at the bottom of this page
Vitamin D is said to be deficient in both disorders [37,38] and vitamin D–binding protein is increased in the cerebrospinal fluid of RLS patients ; therefore, further exploration of the role of vitamin D in both disorders also is warranted.
-  Balaban H, Yildiz OK, Cil G, Senturk IA, Erselcan T, Bolayir E, et al. Serum 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D levels in Restless Legs Syndrome patients. Sleep Med 2012;13:953-7.
-  Qamar S, Akbani S, Shamim S, Khan G. Vitamin D levels in children with growing pains. J. Coll Physicians Surg PAK 2011;21:284-7.
-  Patton SM, Cho YW, Clardy TW, Allen RP, Earley C, Connor JR. Proteomic analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Restless Legs Syndrome. Fluids Barriers CNS 2013;10:20.
- Could growing pains in a child be a vitamin D deficiency – Sept 2010
- Restless legs syndrome 5X more likely if low vitamin D – May 2014
- Restless Legs Syndrome dramatically reduced by vitamin D, etc
- Search VitaminDWiki for "RESTLESS LEG" 1850 items as of June 2014
- Growing pains reduced after supplementing with some vitamin D – March 2014
- Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in restless legs syndrome patients Sleep Medicine, Aug 2013
7 ng restless legs syndrome, and 12 ng controls (PDF costs $31.50) (Notice that there are 3 references to Sleep Medicine Journal on this page)
- Vitamin D levels in children with growing pains J Coll Physicians Surg Pak, May 2011 full text online?
Hypovitaminosis D may have a role in pathogenesis of growing pains.
All children with unexplained limb pains without identifiable organic pathology should be tested for vitamin D status, and treated, if necessary.
- Vitamin D and restless leg syndrome: Where does the research stand? Vitamin D Council, Nov 2013
Mixed indications: Worse in summer (when there is more vitamin D), Worse with lower vitamin D, worse at higher latitudes, worse with whites (vs blacks)