Restless leg syndrome is far more common in people with fibromyalgia than those without, and may explain why people with fibromyalgia often report difficulty sleeping, according to recent research. The study suggests that treating restless legs syndrome (RLS) may improve sleep and quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.
Restless leg syndrome is a condition that is still not fully understood by doctors; it causes people to want to move and stretch their legs constantly to relieve discomfort they feel deep in their thighs and calves.
Results of the study, published in the October 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that the prevalence of restless legs syndrome was about 10 times higher in patients with fibromyalgia (33%) compared to those without (3.1%). Even allowing for factors such as age, gender, and ethnicity, participants with fibromyalgia were 11 times more likely than controls to have RLS. Considerable sleep disruption was reported by participants with fibromyalgia using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Insomnia Severity Index, and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. In the fibromyalgia group, these sleep problems were more severe among people who also had RLS.
“Sleep disruption is common in fibromyalgia, and often difficult to treat,” said contributing author Dr Nathaniel F. Watson, associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle. “It is apparent from our study that a substantial portion of sleep disruption in fibromyalgia is due to restless legs syndrome.” “It’s reasonable to think that more continuous, longer, better quality sleep would have a positive impact on fibromyalgia, as it does on many medical disorders,” he says.
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