According to the results of a new study, the prevalance of ‘Restless Legs Syndrome’ (RLS) is significantly higher in those that suffer from fibromyalgia. The results were published in the October 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, suggest that treating restless legs syndrome may help improve the overall amount of sleep fibromyalgia patients get, thus increasing their quality of life.
The study was conducted at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. The research team studied 172 people who suffer from fibromyalgia. Of the 172 patients, 93% of them were female and the average age of the participants was 50 years. The results found from the fibro group, were then compared to the control group, which consisted of 63 healthy individuals, with an average age of 41 years.
Results of the study found that 33% of the patients suffering from fibromyalgia were also suffering from restless legs syndrome. Whereas, only 3.1% of the patients in control group showed any signs of restless legs syndrome.
To account for any potential confounders in the results, the research team made minor statistical adjustments to account for age, gender and ethnicity. After these minor statistical adjustments, the research tream found that the patients suffering from fibromyalgia were 11x more likely than the control group to also suffer from restless legs syndrome.
As you could expect, the patients with fibromyalgia reported a considerable amount of sleep disruption using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, as well as the Insomnia Severity Index and Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, lead researcher and associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle:
“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. Since restless legs syndrome is a treatable condition, diagnosing and treating RLS in fibromyalgia patients has the potential to improve their sleep.”
It must be noted that the results of this study are supported by the National Fibromyalgia Research Association, as well as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
What Can We Learn From This Study?
If you suffer from both fibromyalgia and restless legs syndrome, then the researchers of this study suggest treating RLS. If you get the symptoms of restless legs syndrome under control, it may be one of the keys to reducing the amount of fatigue you feel throughout the day, as well as improving your overall quality of life. Keep in mind, however, that taking anti-depressants, which is a common treatment for fibromyalgia, may induce the symptoms of RLS. So, it may be wise to discuss other possible treatments for fibromyalgia with your doctor.
Also, previous research has shown that frequent exercise will help with the symptoms of both fibromyalgia and restless legs syndrome. So do what you can to get off the couch and take a walk around the block at least twice a day. The more exercise you can do, the better off you will be.