Restless Leg Syndrome Affects Fine Motor Function in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Presenting at CMSC 2022, researchers sought to explain the relationship between RLS and quality of life, MS-related disability, and perception of level of disability in patients with MS.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) may have a negative effect on fine motor function and on self-perceived physical health and limitations in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a cross-sectional study presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) held from June 1-4, in National Harbor, Maryland.

Compared with the general population, RLS is more common in patients with MS. Yet, the relationship between RLS and MS remains unclear. In approximately half of the studies of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, increased disability was reported among patients with RLS, while the remaining half did not find an association.

The objective of the current study in patients with MS was to explain the relationship between RLS and quality of life, MS-related disability, and an individual’s perception of their own physical health and limitations.

In the cross-sectional study, the researchers looked at patients with MS (N=198) at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Along with demographic data, data on comorbidities, like RLS, patients self-reported clinical outcomes such as employment status, physical and mental quality of life (QOL) in the 12-item Short Form Health Survey. Patients also self-reported disability via The Patient-Determined Disease Steps scale. Researchers assessed how mobility and fine motor function, 2 broad categories of motor disability, were affected by RLS.

A total of 39 (20%) patients with MS reported RLS. No significant correlation between RLS and patient-reported disability (Z=-1.060708; P =.2888), mobility (Z=-1.206974; P =.2274), employment status (full time, part time, unemployed) (=2.6282; P =.2687), physical QOL (Z=-1.823465; P =.06823), and mental QOL (Z=-0.1341077; P =.8933) was found among patients with MS. However, a significant correlation was identified between RLS and fine motor function. Patients with RLS reported increased fine motor impairment (Z=-2.262894; P =.02364) and a worse perception of their own physical health, along with feeling less accomplished and limited in daily activities like work due to their condition (Z=-2.359767; P =.01829).

Overall, the findings revealed RLS did not affect QOL, employment rate, patient-reported disability, or mobility in patients with MS. Individuals with MS with RLS did experience increased impairment in fine motor function and were more likely to negatively perceive their physical health and limitations.

The researchers concluded that the prevalence of RLS in MS “… and the fact that as per previous studies more than one-third of patients with MS with RLS symptoms do not report their struggles with RLS to their neurologist, the impact of RLS on fine motor function and health perceptions suggests that patients with MS may benefit from being screened for RLS and offered treatment if symptoms are reported.”

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 


Masha N, Gregory S, Giarraputo J, et al. Restless legs syndrome in individuals with multiple sclerosis: Effects on disability and perceived physical health. Presented at CMSC 2022 Annual Meeting; June 1-4, 2022; National Harbor, Maryland. Abstract QOL18.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor