Q&A: If you get Restless leg Syndrome do you later get Parkinsons Disease?

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Question by Little sis: If you get Restless leg Syndrome do you later get Parkinsons Disease?
My mum has been diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome and has been put on the same medication as for Parkinsons. This has made her worry that she may get Parkinsons in the future, as they are obviously connected somehow. Is this true? If you get RLS are you more likely to get Parkinsons?

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Answer by Eric Matthews
Well they are closely related due to the abnormal levels of dopamine in both diseases, but i dont believe that RLS will progress to parkinson’s as it hasnt really been documented before.

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2 Responses to “Q&A: If you get Restless leg Syndrome do you later get Parkinsons Disease?”

  1. TweetyBird says:

    “This has made her worry that she may get Parkinsons in the future, as they are obviously connected somehow.” — Is this what your mother said? On what does she base this?? That she was prescribed a medication that’s also used to treat Parkinson’s?? If she took Tylenol for a mild headache, would she also be afraid she’d develop a fever because Tylenol is also used to treat that? According to her logic she would be. A lot of meds have been found effective in treating more than one condition.

    Dopaminergics such as Sinemet (levodopa with carbidopa) are the initial treatment of choice. The reason that a dopamine related medication is used is that there’s considerable evidence that suggests that RLS is related to a dysfunction in the brain’s basal ganglia circuits that use the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is needed to produce smooth, purposeful muscle activity and movement. A disruption of these pathways frequently results in involuntary, jerky movements. Parkinson’s is another disorder of the basal ganglia’s dopamine pathways. It make sense that a medication that works for one might also work for the other. Tell her this. Better yet, print this out and let her read it for herself.

    Medication taken regularly tend to lose effectiveness over time so she may see a medication change at some point.

  2. Mags says:

    I think you can reassure your mum that she will in all likelihood not develop Parkinson’s disease (PD) because she already has Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) The connection does not seem to work in that direction.

    Although both conditions seem to originate in the basal ganglia and are related to dopamine dysfunction, there are some interesting differences. In PD the sleeping patient is often symptom free in the early progression of the disease; whereas in RLS, the patient is often most symptomatic during sleep which often creates a lack of sleep and one very tired patient.

    In the article below from the national Institutes of Health (NIH) you will see that as many as 10% of the population seems to have some form of RLS. You will also see that the incidence of RLS is almost twice as high in women than in men. (Before menopausal age, far more men than women develop PD – estrogen appears to be somewhat neuroprotective for PD)

    You might also want to read this abstract of a paper published about a year ago supporting the fact that the facts aren’t in yet.

    I think you might also like to read the articles below to your mum.

    Your mother may very well be taking PD meds to treat RLS; the same is true of PD patients who sometimes ake RLS meds but that does not mean, as another person already responded that she has both or will ever develop other conditions. Many medications have more than one use. Some were even developed to treat a particular condition but were not found to be that effective in doing so; however, they were found to be quite effective in dealing with totally different medical conditions.

    It is important that neither you nor your mum stress too much about this question. She is probably at very little risk for developing PD unless there are issues in her genetic background or in her environmental exposure history of which she is unaware.

    Please learn what you can about RLS so that you will be aware of what she is enduring Understanding her present condition and being able to recognize when she is symptomatic can make a difference to both of you.

    It is important to realize that RLS is a syndrome not a disease, it can be caused by another condition. I suggest that your mother keep a chronological journal of her symptoms – when the appear – what they are – what preceded them. In this way if there are changes she can show this information to her doctor for further diagnosis.

    Also do some research about diet and exercise which will help the RLS patient.

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