Restless legs’ found to be common in those with fibromyalgia. Why?

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Sometimes symptoms or medical conditions can have complex causes and cures, but sometimes they’re dead simple. For example, if someone is suffering from a tendency to cramping in their muscles, there’s a pretty good chance they’re low on magnesium and upping magnesium levels in the body will really help to alleviate or even stop their symptoms. The same is true of the condition dubbed ‘restless legs syndrome’.

This condition is characterised by sometime uncomfortable sensations, most commonly in the legs, and an urge to move. It often comes on when individuals are in bed. Officially, the condition has no known cause. But my experience in practice leads me to believe that, more often than not, magnesium deficiency is playing a part. And just as with muscle cramping, more magnesium usually does the trick in terms of taming the symptoms characteristic of this condition.

I was interested to read about a recent study which has found a link between restless legs syndrome and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is another ‘muscular’ condition – and it is characterised by pain and tenderness in the muscles, particular certain ‘trigger points’ such as at the back of the neck or the upper part of the chest.

This study discovered that someone with fibromyalgia was more than 10 times as likely as someone without this condition to suffer from restless legs syndrome. In others words, there is a tendency for these two conditions to go together.

While the management of fibromyalgia, in my experience, can be complex, it is a condition that can often respond to magnesium (just like restless legs). This perhaps explains why these two conditions tend to coincide.

I recommend nuts as a magnesium-rich food, but usually suggest those with symptoms or signs of magnesium deficiency to supplement with about 400 mg of magnesium a day.

In addition to magnesium, there’s another couple of approaches I tend to explore for those suffering from fibromyalgia. One is to unearth and treat (if appropriate) any low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). The other concerns vitamin D, as deficiency in the nutrient can lead to widespread muscular pain.


1. Viola-Saltzman M, et al. High prevalence of restless legs syndrome among patients with fibromyalgia: a controlled cross-sectional study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 2010;6(5):423-427

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