Restless legs syndrome

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history
Sleep pattern of a Restless Legs Syndrome patient (red) vs. a healthy sleep pattern (blue). Y-Axis shows "Stage of Sleep."

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually due to leg discomfort. It typically happens in the evenings or nights while you're sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.[1]

It is a neurological condition associated with abnormal sensation in the legs. Population affected is estimated at 5% with as many as 10% affected age 65 and older.[2]

Disease name[edit | edit source]

Restless legs syndrome is now known as restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease (RLS/WED).[1] The Willis-Ekbom name recognizes the first known description of the disease by Sir Thomas Willis in 1672 and first detailed clinical description by Dr. Karl Axel Ekbom in 1945.[3]

Primary features[edit | edit source]

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Neurology and Neurosurgery, explains there are four primary features of RLS:[4]

  • Uncomfortable sensation in the legs with a clear need or urge to move the legs
  • The symptoms are worse at night
  • The symptoms come on with rest
  • The symptoms are relieved with movement[4]

Primary and Secondary types[edit | edit source]

Primary RLS/WED appear without any reason often in young people. It can be mild but worsen with age. After age 50 symptoms can become much more severe disrupting sleep. It appears to run in families so this type genetic.[5]

Secondary RLS/WED is caused by other conditions such as:[5]

  • Being low in iron (being anemic). If the levels of iron or the anemia itself can be corrected, there is often a reduction in symptoms.
  • Pregnancy. Fortunately RLS is usually a temporary symptom when linked to pregnancy (usually in the third trimester) and will disappear after the baby has been delivered.
  • Kidney problems or kidney disease.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Thyroid problems such as an over active or under active thyroid.
  • Spinal cord tumors, peripheral nerve lesions or even spinal cord injuries.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Varicose veins or problems with the nerves in either the hands or the feet.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Certain medications or drugs may increase or trigger RLS symptoms. These include tricyclic antidepressants, anti-nausea and anti-seizure drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or lithium. Changing your medication may be all that is necessary to stop the RLS symptoms.
  • The use of some cold and allergy drugs can also cause RLS.
  • The withdrawal of sedatives can trigger RLS.[5]
  • Fibromyalgia[6]

Treatment[edit | edit source]

"Pharmacotherapy for restless legs syndrome and peri-odic limb movements in sleep may include benzodiazepines, dopaminergic agents, or opioids. For mild cases of restless legs syndrome, patients may relieve symptoms by massaging the legs, exercising, and eliminating alcohol and caffeine intake."[7]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Restless legs syndrome - Symptoms and causes". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  2. Kieffer, Sara. "What is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)? | The Johns Hopkins Center for Restless Legs Syndrome". Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. "What is Restless Legs Syndrome / Willis-Ekbom Disease?". Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kieffer, Sara. "What is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)? | The Johns Hopkins Center for Restless Legs Syndrome". Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment, RLS Treatment, Home Remedies". Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  6. Viola-Saltzman, Mari; Watson, Nathaniel F.; Bogart, Andy; Goldberg, Jack; Buchwald, Dedra (October 15, 2010). "High prevalence of restless legs syndrome among patients with fibromyalgia: a controlled cross-sectional study". Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 6 (5): 423–427. ISSN 1550-9389. PMID 20957840.
  7. Dinges, David; Ball, Eric; Fredrickson, Paul; Kryger, Meir; Richardson, Gary; Sheldon, Stephen; Wooten, Virgil; Zepf, Bill (September 1997). "Problem: Sleepiness In Your Patient" (PDF). Kiley, James; Rogus, Susan; Shero, Susan.