Migraine Treatment and Restlessness Findings

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November 12, 2013

Do you sometimes feel like you are simply falling apart at the seams? Most of us certainly have those days on occasion.  Some of you are struggling to find an effective migraine treatment, while worrying that you are grinding your teeth down to the bone and waking up through the night with restless leg syndrome and dragging through the following day with a chronic headache. 

Recent medical news linking bruxism (teeth grinding), restless limbs/legs syndrome (RLS) and migraines, may provide an explanation for the concurrence of your seemingly disconnected conditions and debilitating symptoms.  (Proving once again that your symptoms are not just ‘all in your head’.)

According to a study presented by medical researchers at the recent American Neurological Association’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, migraine, bruxism (teeth grinding) and restless legs syndrome seem to have a common link.  Earlier this year a study published in the Journal of Orofacial Pain actually found that sleep bruxism increased the risk for episodic migraines, tension headaches and chronic migraines.  RLS is a neurological disorder that causes a person to move their body to avoid unpleasant sensations.  It usually occurs in the legs, but can affect other body parts as well, while the individual is in a restful state or sleeping.  The study presented at the meeting suggests that RLS, bruxism and migraine treatment may in fact be similar.

Approximately 28 percent of 870 subjects with RLS who were surveyed, were also found to have migraine and bruxism.  In an interview with Medscape news the lead author said, “we found that, in all likelihood, bruxism –which up until now has had no effective medical treatment – responds to dopamine agonists, the drugs we give for RLS. 

This suggests to me, in fact, that bruxism is really ‘restless jaw.” So for headache and migraines sufferers, what is the significance of this research, presented in New Orleans?  Migraines might respond to similar treatment in people who struggle with all three neurological disorders.  The author suggested that chronic headaches occurring with bruxism, thought to be temporomandibular joint dysfunction from constant grinding, are in fact migraines.  Treatments may therefore be the same as those used for RLS, including drugs that regulate the neurotransmitter dopamine. 



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