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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

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.

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