Association between restless legs syndrome and essential tremor

William G. Ondo, Dejian Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


After observing that several families with essential tremor (ET) clinically cosegregated with restless legs syndrome (RLS), we prospectively evaluated for the presence of RLS in 100 patients presenting to the Baylor College of Medicine with ET and prospectively examined all patients presenting with RLS for the presence of tremor during the same time frame. Of 100 consecutive ET patients (60 women and 75 with a family history of ET) seen over 19 weeks (current age, 65.2 ± 16.3 years; age at tremor onset, 37.8 ± 19.9 years) 33 met all criteria for RLS, of which 25 had never been diagnosed previously. A family history of RLS was reported in 57.6% of these 33 patients and was the only significant predictor of RLS in the ET population. Their International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale score was 16.6 ± 8.1. Over 19 weeks, we also examined 68 consecutive RLS patients (63.2% women and 54.4% with a family history of RLS) for the presence of tremor. Their current age was 55.8 ± 14.4 years, and age at RLS onset was 33.7 ± 19.5 years. Overtly pathological tremor was rare, but trace tremor was very common. Overall, we found a very high rate of undiagnosed RLS in patients presenting for tremor, but unlike other "secondary" forms of RLS, this finding was also associated with a high familial history of RLS, suggesting that they share some genetic similarities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-518
Number of pages4
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Essential tremor
  • Restles legs syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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