MS and Achy Restless Legs

Restless legs syndrome is four times more likely to occur in multiple sclerosis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Strong urges to move your legs and painful sensations like crawling, tingling and burning can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. These symptoms are associated with restless legs syndrome (RLS) and studies show it may have an association with multiple sclerosis (MS).

A recent study looks at the prevalence of RLS in MS patients. The study reports that those with MS are four times more likely to have RLS than those who do not have MS.

"Restless leg syndrome questions? Ask your MD."

Markus Schuerks, MD, of Bayer HealthCare and the University Hospital Essen and a colleague from Bayer Healthcare reviewed 24 existing studies on RLS in patients with MS.

The authors used the data in these studies to calculate the overall occurrence of RLS in MS patients and people without MS. The studies reported RLS in 12.1 to 57.5 percent of MS patients. The studies reported RLS in a range of 2.6 to 18.3 percent of people who did not have MS.

A link between MS and RLS may be caused by demyelination along the striatum, spinal cord and hypothalamus. Neurons that go from the spinal cord to the hypothalamus are involved in controlling the legs' response to stimuli.

Demyelination is the loss of the protective matter that insulates nerve endings and is the root cause of MS symptoms. The protective matter, myelin, helps the nerves understand messages from the brain.

Future studies may include investigating the role and frequency of RLS symptoms, geographical factors of RLS, and which regions of the brain and spine are key players in RLS.

This study was published in the European Journal of Neurology.

The authors report associations with the Migraine Research Foundation, L.E.K. Consulting, the American Academy of Neurology, Both authors are full-time employees of Bayer HealthCare Germany.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 14, 2012
Last Updated:
October 7, 2013