Restless Legs Syndrome

Neurology Now
March/April 2008
Volume 4(2)
p 12
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Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that results in uncomfortable sensations in the legs—creeping, burning, tingling, tugging—and an irresistible urge to move them. Symptoms begin or worsen while resting, which can interfere with sleep. “RLS patients may experience daytime tiredness, mood disturbance, and an impaired ability to perform daily activities,” says John Winkelman, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Sleep Health Center of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.

A study in Neurology in April 2007 found that the twitching leg movements during sleep produce sharp blood-pressure spikes that could contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in the elderly. There is no cure, but the FDA-approved drugs ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex) can alleviate symptoms.

10: Percentage of the U.S. population estimated to be affected by RLS.

35: Percentage of patients who report RLS-onset before age 20. The average age of diagnosis is 46.

50: Percent chance that RLS will be passed on from a parent with the disorder to each of his or her children, because the gene for RLS is passed on.

25: Percentage of women who develop RLS during pregnancy; symptoms often disappear after giving birth.

720: Estimated number of periodic limb movements a person with RLS experiences during an eight-hour night of sleep. These movements typically recur at 20- to 40-second intervals and can cause partial awakenings that disrupt sleep.

3: Minimum number of times most sufferers will wake up from sleep due to RLS.

Sources: Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Inc: rls.org

NINDS: ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm

Elizabeth Stump

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