We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Is there a link between polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and restless legs syndrome?

Q) I was interested to read on the internet that there's a link between polymyalgia rheumaticia (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA). This led me to wonder if there might similarly be any link between PMR and restless leg syndrome, both of which I suffer from. I've equally met other people with both complaints and would be grateful to know whether it's commonly known that the two conditions are linked in some way?
Miss H Anderson, Crook, County Durham (Summer 2009)

A) Restless leg syndrome is an unpleasant condition in which the person complains of unpleasant burning sensation in the legs (and sometimes arms), especially at night, and an uncontrollable urge to move the legs to obtain some relief. Sometimes the legs are subject to involuntary jerks – anyone who sleeps with the sufferer will be well aware of this symptom! It's fairly common in my experience (and I worked as a GP for many years) but is said to be more frequent in pregnancy and in people with iron deficiency. Recently, a specific drug treatment for this condition has become available – ropinirole – but you can only get it on prescription. Some drugs are thought to be associated with this condition, as a side-effect of the drug, and these include some anti-depressants, heart tablets and, you guessed, steroids. Steroids are the drug of choice for polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and it's not uncommon to find restless legs syndrome occurring for the first time in people treated for PMR. What should you do about it? Your doctor will be trying to give you the smallest possible dose of steroids to control your PMR and this will help. Taking regular exercise during the day is also said to help the (predominantly night-time) symptoms. As a last resort your doctor may try ropinirole.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

More Information Close
For more information, go to or call 0300 790 0400 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.