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Mult Scler. 2008 Jan;14(1):86-93. Epub 2007 Oct 17.

Restless legs syndrome is a common finding in multiple sclerosis and correlates with cervical cord damage.

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Sleep Disorders Center, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


In this prospective study, we estimated the prevalence of restless legs syndrome (RLS) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and compared the extent of brain and cervical cord damage between patients with and without RLS using conventional and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Eighty-two consecutive MS patients were evaluated. Each patient underwent a medical history interview, a neurological examination and brain/cervical cord MRI. Global and regional dual-echo lesion load (LL), number of cervical cord lesions, mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) histograms metrics of the normal-appearing tissues of the brain and cervical cord were assessed. Thirty subjects had RLS; they showed a higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score than patients without. No difference between the two groups was found in whole brain, cerebellar and brainstem T(2)-LLs; MD and FA histograms derived metrics of the normal appearing brain tissues; basal ganglia MD; number of cervical cord lesions and cord MD histograms derived metrics. Cervical cord average FA was significantly reduced in MS patients with RLS compared to those without. RLS symptoms are very common in MS. This form of RLS should be considered as symptomatic. Higher disability and cervical cord damage represent a significant risk factor for RLS in MS patients.

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