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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Musculoskeletal pain is associated with restless legs syndrome in young adults

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Stijn J. Hoogwout, Markus V. Paananen, Anne J. Smith, Darren J. Beales, Peter B. O’Sullivan, Leon M. Straker, Peter R. Eastwood, Nigel McArdle, David Champion
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

NM has received research support from ResMed Ltd and received an Honorarium for participating at a ResMed Ltd breakfast symposium. PE has received research support from ResMed Ltd, and Apnex Medical Inc. The other authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Authors’ contributions

AS, DB, PO, LS, PE, NM and DC were involved with study conception, study design and data acquisition. SH and MP were responsible for data analysis (in collaboration with AS) and manuscript preparation. All authors were involved with manuscript revision and approved the final manuscript.



In recent years, there is considerable evidence of a relationship between the sensorimotor disorder restless legs syndrome (RLS) and pain disorders, including migraine and fibromyalgia. An association between multi-site pain and RLS has been reported in adult women. In the current study, we explored the association between musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and RLS in a large cohort of young adults.


Twenty two year olds (n = 1072), followed since birth of part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, provided data on MSK pain (duration, severity, frequency, number of pain sites). RLS was considered present when 4 diagnostic criteria recommended by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group were met (urge to move, dysaesthesia, relief by movement, worsening symptoms during the evening/night) and participants had these symptoms at least 5 times per month. Associations between MSK pain and RLS were analyzed by multivariable logistic regression with bias-corrected bootstrapped confidence intervals, with final models adjusted for sex, psychological distress and sleep quality.


The prevalence of RLS was 3.0 % and MSK pain was reported by 37.4 % of the participants. In multivariable logistic regression models, strong associations were found between RLS-diagnosis and long duration (three months or more) of MSK pain (odds ratio 3.6, 95 % confidence interval 1.4–9.2) and reporting three or more pain sites (4.9, 1.6–14.6).


Different dimensions of MSK pain were associated with RLS in young adults, suggestive of shared pathophysiological mechanisms. Overlap between these conditions requires more clinical and research attention.
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