Migraineurs Suffer Restless Legs

Migraineurs Suffer Restless Legs


  • Poor sleep is a confounder in migraine recovery and tends to increase migraine incidence.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS) impairs high quality sleep.
  • In this large study, migraine patients were found to have a higher prevalence of RLS than normal controls and their RLS symptoms were much worse.
  • Efforts to control migraine that also address RLS may lead to better outcomes.



Our aim was to study not only the prevalence but more importantly the severity and the correlation between sleep quality and restless legs syndrome (RLS) in a large population of well-defined migraine patients as poor sleep presumably triggers migraine attacks.

cervicogenic headacheMETHODS:

In a large cross-sectional and observational study, data on migraine and RLS were collected from 2385 migraine patients (according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders ICHD-IIIb) and 332 non-headache controls. RLS severity (International RLS Study Group severity scale) and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were assessed. Risk factors for RLS and RLS severity were calculated using multivariable-adjusted regression models.


Restless legs syndrome prevalence in migraine was higher than in controls (16.9% vs. 8.7%; multivariable-adjusted odds ratio 1.83; 95% confidence interval 1.18-2.86; P = 0.008) and more severe (adjusted severity score 14.5 ± 0.5 vs. 12.0 ± 1.1; P = 0.036). Poor sleepers were overrepresented amongst migraineurs (50.1% vs. 25.6%; P < 0.001). Poorer sleep quality was independently associated with RLS occurrence (odds ratio 1.08; P < 0.001) and RLS severity (P < 0.001) in migraine patients.


Restless legs syndrome is not only twice as prevalent but also more severe in migraine patients, and associated with decreased sleep quality.


van Oosterhout WP, van Someren EJ, Louter MA, Schoonman GG, Lammers GJ, Rijsman RM, Ferrari MD, Terwindt GM. Restless legs syndrome in migraine patients: prevalence and severity. Eur J Neurol. 2016 Mar 21. doi: 10.1111/ene.12993

This entry was posted in Public Content by Richard Cole. Bookmark the permalink.

About Richard Cole

Richard L. Cole, DC, DACNB, DAAPM, FICCN, FICC is a doctor of chiropractic, with advanced training in chiropractic neurology and pain management. Also, he is a fellow of the International College of Chiropractic Neurology and a fellow of the International College of Chiropractors.