Restless leg syndrome is common in RA patients | Arthritis Information


J Clin Rheum 2009; 15: 12–15

 Researchers have revealed that more than a quarter of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), but physician awareness is low.

Sleep disturbance is common in RA patients and has been linked to pain and disease activity, note John Gjevre and colleagues from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.

Two previous studies have reported a high prevalence of RLS, a disorder that has a profound impact on sleep and quality of life, in RA patients.

Since the publication of these studies, the International RLS Study Group (IRLSSG) has developed standardized diagnostic criteria for RLS. However, these criteria have never been applied to the rheumatologic disease populations.

Using the 2003 IRLSSG diagnostic criteria, Gjevre and team evaluated RLS prevalence in a RA and osteoarthritis (OA) population. They also assessed physician awareness of this disorder by measuring the number of pre-existing diagnoses of RLS in these populations.

The researchers distributed a questionnaire along with a description of the four symptomatic criteria for RLS to 253 RA and OA patients enrolled in a longitudinal database study.

Of the 193 respondents, 82% were women and 77% were RA patients. The RA patients were an average of 7 years younger than the patients with OA.

All criteria for RLS were met by 27.7% of RA patients and by 24.4% of OA patients. However, a previous diagnosis of RLS was reported by only 2.6% of patients.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Gjevre and co-authors admit that a self-administered questionnaire may result in inaccurate responses, but highlight the fact that their findings are in keeping with those from other investigators.

They conclude: “As RLS can significantly affect quality of life, increased awareness with improvement in surveillance, recognition, and treatment would be beneficial to patient care.

“We advocate screening for symptoms of sleep disorders to be incorporated into the routine rheumatologic history for all patients with RA and OA.”

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Lynn, I had restless legs for years before being diagnosed with RA. It occurred both when trying to go to sleep and when stretched out on the couch watching TV at night. My hips bothered me and I felt like I couldn't get comfortable. So this study doesn't surprise me at all.

As always, thanks for the informative article.

I am one, too.  I've had the RLS for as long as I can remember....  Can't sit still watching tv..always moving my legs...   my inability to sleep almost caused a shut down w/ the flare that finally got my DX w/ adult RA......

I hate it.. but I take Requip for the RLS... I hope to be able to stop that via remission or finding another avenue to quiet the legs.

I used OTC supps for the RLS and it went away.  Magnesium, pottasium and calcium.  I use Melatonin for sleep and LOVE IT!  I don't care if I never get off even tho my AP doc wants me to pulse off.

Bluehour and SnowOwl,

You're both welcome.  I'm glad you liked the article Does anyone get a lot of toe cramps? and leg cramps. Mine seem to be very frequent. I know this isn't restless legs but just curious. I never had this problem until recently, wondering if it is RA related, I didn't find much info about it.

Pip, why does your AP doc want you off? You know, I had this before getting RA.  I sure wish I had known it was associated with RA.  Maybe it was the body's way of warning us to pay attention to the health or else, the monster RA was next. Most of the things I have learned have been learned as the RA progresses. but yes my legs used to ache so much while trying to sleep.  It felt like I needed to stretch them but stretching never helped.  Doctors don't ask about it and patients don't know to bring it up. What a shame.  Well, the next generation will be better equipped with fighting this autoimmune monster -- we hope.
I don't really get this achy legs feeling now just the achy knees, ankles and feet from the RA, that and fatigue or heavy legs when I walk too far.
thanks for the article.
He thinks my melatonin levels could have reset wrong after my stroke/adverse reaction/whatever and if we got them up, and pulsed me off (like when we get off Pred) that maybe my body would now know what the correct amount to produce would be. 
It's a hope.  All I know is since I've started it I can sleep 6 - 8 hours at a stretch and don't even get up to use the potty anymore.  I love the stuff.  My worry is when I stop it, I won't sleep again.  So, I delay but...he's right and eventually I'll have to start pulsing off.  He thinks I need to start skipping nights to see how I do.
interesting article.  I've had restless legs for many years.  I tried the quinine and the minerals and stuff.  The thing that works like a dream is an anti-Parkinsons drug called Cabaser (Cabergoline).  It is my magic bullet, I know if I don't take it for a couple of nights the jerking starts all over again.  I have the restless feeling but I also have very violent jerks that make me jack-knife and can lift me right off the bed, every 30-40 seconds for hours on end if I don't do something about it (like get up).  Hubby slept in another room for months before we got things under control.I find it interesting the difference in symptoms.  Mine doesn't feel like cramping.  I feel like I have bugs crawling up the bones of my legs. Restless leg is also common in people with kidney disease.Kweenb, what a great description of restless legs. That's just what mine feel like. Something crawling and tickling inside where you can't reach. that's how I feel too, Blue.
I'm going to try the ferritin boost once more.. but w/ Vit C this time... it should help w/ absorption, as I've learned.. 
I hope..
cause I hate the Requip........

 me too.

 not severe  to be sure but its annoying when it happens . the gabapentin seems to help

 me too.

My partner suffers from this and get to feel the brunt of it.