Migraine and restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is more common in women who also suffer from migraines, according to a new study published in the journal Cephalalgia. Women with migraines are 20% more likely to also have RLS. This study involved 31,370 US health professionals making its findings highly reliable. In my previous post 5 years ago I mentioned that RLS, by disrupting normal sleep, may increase the frequency and severity of migraines, but at that time we did not know that these two conditions are connected. Possible causes of this association include the fact that disturbance of metabolism of iron and dopamine in the brain is thought to play a role in both conditions. People who have symptoms of RLS should be tested for iron and vitamin B12 deficiency which can cause similar symptoms. A sleep study is sometimes necessary to confirm the diagnosis of RLS. This study involves sleeping in a sleep lab with wires attached to the scalp, monitors measuring breathing and video camera recording movements of legs and body. Most major hospitals have a sleep lab and it is usually covered by insurance.
Fortunately, we have many effective drugs to treat RLS – Requip (ropinirole), Mirapex (pramipexole), Horizant (gabapentin), Neupro patch (rotigotine), as well as opioid drugs, such as Vicodin (hydrocodone), Percocet (oxycodone), and other. Horizant is a long-acting form of gabapentin, which is available in a short-acting form as a generic, much cheaper form. The advantage of gabapentin (also known as Neurontin and Gralise) is that it has also been shown to prevent chronic migraine, so this one drug can potentially treat RLS and migraine.

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