BACKGROUND: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) has been reported to occur more frequently in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) than in people without MS.
METHODS: Systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating RLS in patients with MS published through April 2012. We calculated the prevalences and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of RLS in patients with MS and people without MS as well as odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs of the association between MS and RLS based on data from the publications. We then calculated pooled effect estimates for the association between MS and RLS.
RESULTS: We identified 24 studies. RLS prevalence amongst patients with MS ranged from 12.12% to 57.50% and from 2.56% to 18.33% amongst people without MS. Heterogeneity amongst studies was high (RLS prevalence in patients with MS I(2) = 94.4%; RLS prevalence amongst people without MS I(2) = 82.2%). Hence, we did not pool the prevalence data for meta-analysis. Heterogeneity amongst studies investigating the association between MS and RLS was moderate (I(2) = 53.6%). Pooled analysis indicates that MS is associated with a fourfold increased odds for RLS (pooled OR = 4.19, 95% CI 3.11-5.66). This association was smaller amongst studies published as full papers (pooled OR = 3.94, 95% CI 2.81-5.54) than amongst studies published as abstracts only (pooled OR = 6.23, 95% CI 3.25-11.95).
CONCLUSION: This systematic review indicates that RLS prevalence amongst patients with MS ranges from 12.12% to 57.50% in different populations. Pooled analysis further indicates that the odds of RLS amongst patients with MS are fourfold higher compared to people without MS.
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