J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 81:524-528 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2009.191684
  • Research paper

Association between restless legs syndrome and migraine

  1. Shuu-Jiun Wang4,5
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Lin-Shin Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
  2. 2Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
  3. 3Department of Health Care Administration, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan
  4. 4Department of Neurology, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  5. 5National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shuu-Jiun Wang, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei 11217, Taiwan; sjwang{at}
  • Received 13 August 2009
  • Revised 17 October 2009
  • Accepted 19 October 2009
  • Published Online First 30 November 2009


Background An association between restless legs syndrome and migraine has been reported recently. The clinical correlates and impact of comorbidity of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are not fully described in patients with migraine.

Objectives To investigate the frequency of RLS among different primary headache disorders, and its impact and clinical correlates in migraine patients.

Methods Consecutive patients with migraine, tension-type headache (TTH) and cluster headache (CH) were recruited in a headache clinic. Each patient completed the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and International RLS Study Group (IRLSSG) Rating Scale. RLS was diagnosed using the IRLSSG criteria.

Results A total of 1041 patients (migraine 772, TTH 218, CH 51) completed the study. The frequencies of RLS in patients with migraine (11.4%) was higher than in those with TTH (4.6%) or CH (2.0%) (p=0.002). In migraine patients, comorbidity with RLS was associated with higher frequencies of photophobia, phonophobia, exacerbation due to physical activities, vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus and neck pain, and higher mean scores of MIDAS and HADS. Migraine patients with RLS had a poorer sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score 11.1±4.1 vs 8.9±4.0, p<0.001) than those without.

Conclusion An association between migraine and RLS among different primary headache disorders is demonstrated. Comorbid RLS in migraine patients worsened sleep quality. A shared underlying mechanism may account for the correlates between migraine features and comorbid RLS.


  • Linked articles 200030.

  • Funding This study was supported in part by grants from Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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