There may be an association between restless leg syndrome, migraine, and bruxism, a new study suggests.

Study lead author, David J. Dickoff, MD, assistant clinical professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York said, “There is a strong clinical and genetic association of restless leg syndrome, bruxism – grinding or clenching of the teeth – and migraine headaches.”

He presented his findings at the American Neurological Association (ANA) 2013 Annual Meeting.

The study found that headache features like nausea, light sensitivity, and sound sensitivity, as well as migraines present in at least one family member, pointed to the diagnosis of migraines in those surveyed. “Interestingly, two thirds of restless leg patients are women, and two thirds of migraine sufferers are also women, and this is what we found on our survey,” he added.

Of 870 respondents with restless leg syndrome, 549 also had symptoms suggestive of migraine (63%), 289 had bruxism (33%), and 240 had all 3 conditions (28%).

“Doctors have to be able to see this in a holistic way,” Dickoff suggested. When patients present to sleep specialists with insomnia, the physician should ask about headaches and limb symptoms. Patients presenting to headache specialists should be asked about sleep.”

Beth Ann Molow, MD, professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Clinic commented on these findings.  “I think the common denominator might be that restless leg syndrome interrupts sleep, and a lack of sleep can provoke migraines. Arousals from sleep can lead to nonspecific tooth grinding… I just think it’s possible that general sleep deprivation is the underlying basis for these findings,” she said.       Medscape Medical News   10/18/13

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