Musculoskeletal pain is associated with restless legs syndrome in young adults.

Editor’s Note:  I found this study particularly compelling as we recently noticed our three-year old grandson exhibiting behavior consistent with restless legs syndrome (RLS), and both my son and I experience the annoying sensations. The study cites observational studies that "suggest, at least in part, a genetic basis in chronic pain syndromes including chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia and pain reporting behavior at multiple MSK pain sites as well and suggests…that with genetic susceptibility being such an important component in the occurrence of both RLS and MSK pain, shared genes might be an important factor in the co-existence of these conditions.”



In recent years, there is considerable evidence of a relationship between the sensorimotor disorder restless legs syndrome (RLS) and pain disorders, including migraine and fibromyalgia. An association between multi-site pain and RLS has been reported in adult women. In the current study, we explored the association between musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and RLS in a large cohort of young adults.


Twenty-two year olds (n = 1072), followed since birth of part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, provided data on MSK pain (duration, severity, frequency, number of pain sites). RLS was considered present when 4 diagnostic criteria recommended by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group were met (urge to move, dysaesthesia, relief by movement, worsening symptoms during the evening/night) and participants had these symptoms at least 5 times per month. Associations between MSK pain and RLS were analyzed by multivariable logistic regression with bias-corrected bootstrapped confidence intervals, with final models adjusted for sex, psychological distress and sleep quality.


The prevalence of RLS was 3.0 % and MSK pain was reported by 37.4 % of the participants. In multivariable logistic regression models, strong associations were found between RLS-diagnosis and long duration (three months or more) of MSK pain (odds ratio 3.6, 95 % confidence interval 1.4-9.2) and reporting three or more pain sites (4.9, 1.6-14.6).


Different dimensions of MSK pain were associated with RLS in young adults, suggestive of shared pathophysiological mechanisms. Overlap between these conditions requires more clinical and research attention.

Full text available here.

Source:  Hoogwout SJ, Paananen MV, Smith AJ, Beales DJ, O'Sullivan PB, Straker LM, Eastwood PR, McArdle N, Champion D. Musculoskeletal pain is associated with restless legs syndrome in young adults. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015 Oct 14;16:294. doi: 10.1186/s12891-015-0765-1.

Do other members of your family experience symptoms similar to yours?  How has your family responded?  Let us know in the comments below.

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One thought on “Musculoskeletal pain is associated with restless legs syndrome in young adults.”

  1. anna_jacobs says:

    I used to get this until an acquaintance suggested taking magnesium. The restless legs ‘vanish’ about 20 minutes after a magnesium (with calcium) tablet. I now take magnesium in various forms three to four times a day. Not only do I rarely get restless lets syndrome but my heart flutter has virtually stopped, and I just feel better. I don’t seem able to retain magnesium in my body, so if I have a very busy/active sort of day it’s four doses. And even so, very occasionally I have to get up in the night to take a magnesium citrate tablet. NB Magnesium is also very good for helping you sleep and stay regular.

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