FRIDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- People with fibromyalgia are
11 times more likely to have restless legs syndrome (RLS) than
those in the general population, according to a new study.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that can cause significant pain and
fatigue. Women account for 80 to 90 percent of patients diagnosed
with fibromyalgia. Its cause is unknown.
The findings suggest that treating RLS -- which is characterized
by an unpleasant urge to move the legs, usually at night -- may
improve sleep and quality of life for people with fibromyalgia, the
researchers said. RLS is often treated with drugs such as
pramipexole or ropinirole.
In this study, U.S. researchers compared 172 fibromyalgia
patients, average age 50, with a control group of 63 healthy
people, average age 41. The prevalence of RLS was about 10 times
higher in the fibromyalgia group (93 percent of whom were female)
than in the control group -- 33 percent vs. 3.1 percent. After
accounting for factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, the
researchers calculated that fibromyalgia patients were 11 times
more likely to have RLS.
As expected, major sleep problems were more common among the
fibromyalgia patients, said the researchers.
"Sleep disruption is common in fibromyalgia, and often difficult to treat. It is apparent from our study that a substantial portion of sleep disruption in fibromyalgia is due to restless legs syndrome," contributing author Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.
The study appears Oct. 15 in the
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
The American College of Rheumatology has more about