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Lepr Rev. 2012 Dec;83(4):363-9.

Restless legs syndrome in people affected by leprosy.

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Department of Neurology, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, South Korea.



Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is one of the most commonly encountered sleep disorders. The prevalence of RLS and its association'with leprosy have not previously been elucidated. The aims of this study were to investigate the prevalence of RLS in people affected by leprosy and to determine the presence and amount of sleep disruption in leprosy affected people with RLS.


Each leprosy-affected person was matched to two healthy controls for age and sex. A total of 236 leprosy-affected people who lived in Sorokdo and 472 healthy control subjects who lived in Namwon were included in this study. A diagnosis of RLS and a severity assessment were made using the criteria described by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group.


The prevalence of RLS was significantly higher in people affected by leprosy (60/236; 25.4%) than in controls (42/472; 8.8%). Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) global score was higher in leprosy-affected people than in controls. No significant difference was found between leprosy-affected people and controls with regard to the severity of RLS. Leprosy-affected people with RLS had a poorer sleep quality (higher PSQI global score) than those without RLS, but the Geriatric Depression Scale was not different between leprosy-affected people with RLS and those without RLS.


The frequency of RLS among leprosy-affected people was significantly higher than that of RLS in the general population. Leprosy-affected people should be examined for RLS and treatment for RLS can potentially improve sleep.

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