- •This is the first study, which evaluated the association between RLS and spinal cord injury.
- •RLS occurs frequently in patients with SCI and responds well to treatment with dopaminergic drugs.
- •RLS occurs more frequently in lumbosacral SCI than in cervicothoracic SCI.
The presence of restless leg syndrome (RLS) in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) is not well established. We studied the frequency and severity of RLS in a population of patients with SCI and the effect of treatment with dopaminergic drugs when clinically indicated.
Consecutive patients with SCI admitted to an out-patient clinic of a neurorehabilitation hospital (n:195) were evaluated for the presence of RLS between February 2013 and May 2014. A diagnosis of RLS was made according to the criteria of the International RLS Study Group, and severity was assessed by the RLS rating scale. Information on gender, age, time since SCI, level and severity of SCI, was obtained.
The mean age was 54.7 ± 15.6 years (range: 22–81 year); with time since SCI: 16.9 ± 11.4 years (range: 1–50 years). Thirty-five of 195 patients (17.9%) presented RLS. Twenty-two out of 154 (14.3%) patients with cervicothoracic SCI and 13 out of 41 (31.7%) patients with lumbosacral SCI presented RLS. Restless leg symptoms were mild in 2 patients, moderate in 10 patients, severe in 12 patients and very severe in 11. Ten patients received dopaminergic agonist treatment with a significant reduction in RLS severity scale from 29.1 ± 5.9 to 10.2 ± 7.9.
RLS occurs frequently in SCI patients and responds to dopaminergic treatment. Physicians have to be aware of this diagnosis to avoid unnecessary suffering in this patient population.
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Published online: October 08, 2015
Accepted: October 5, 2015
Received in revised form: September 29, 2015
Received: May 17, 2015
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.