Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them for relief. Individuals affected with the disorder often describe the sensations as throbbing, polling, or creeping. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
For those with mild to moderate symptoms, many physicians suggest certain lifestyle changes and activities to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Decreased use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may provide some relief. Physicians may suggest that certain individuals take supplements to correct deficiencies in iron, folate, and magnesium. Taking a hot bath, massaging the legs, or using a heating pad or ice pack can help relieve symptoms in some patients. Physicians also may suggest a variety of medications to treat RLS, including dopaminergics, benzodiazepines (central nervous system depressants), opioids, and anticonvulsants. The drugs ropinirole, pramipexole, gabapentin enacarbil, and rotigotine have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating moderate to severe RLS. The Relaxis pad, which the person can place at the site of discomfort when in bed and provides 30 minutes of vibrations (counterstimulation) that ramp off after 30 minutes, also has been approved by the FDA.
RLS is generally a life-long condition for which there is no cure. Symptoms may gradually worsen with age. Nevertheless, current therapies can control the disorder, minimizing symptoms and increasing periods of restful sleep. In addition, some individuals have remissions, periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, or months, although symptoms usually eventually reappear.
For more information:
American Academy of Neurology www.aan.com
Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
Provides educational materials on restless legs syndrome and related disorders to individuals, their families, physicians, healthcare providers and supports medical research into the cause and cure for restless legs syndrome.
3006 Bee Caves Road Suite D206
Austin, TX 78746