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Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome Causes

Restless legs syndrome is believed to be a congenital disease. More than half of documented cases are familiar. RLS is inherited via the autosomal recessive trait with variable penetrance. Some medications are also believed to aggravate the condition in those who already have it, or trigger it secondarily.

Restless Legs Syndrome Definition

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Wittmaack-Ekbom's syndrome, is a progressive neurological disease characterized by an irresistible urge to move one's body to halt odd or uncomfortable sensations. This condition usually affects the legs, but can also affect the arms and torso.

Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosis

To date, there is no single diagnostic test available to confirm restless legs syndrome. However, the condition may be diagnosed clinically based on the patient's symptoms and family history. Although recent efforts have been made to standardize the criteria for RLS diagnosis, the disease remains difficult to diagnose and therefore remains largely under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms and Signs

Restless legs syndrome causes a sensation akin to burning, itching, or tickling in the muscles of the affected body parts. Moving the affected area provides temporary relief. However, the sensations often return immediately after movement is ceased. The sensations associated with restless legs syndrome are odd and unusual, and may occur in any body part. While afflicted patients usually have difficulty describing their sensations, the words uncomfortable, creeping, antsy, painful, pins and needles, creepy-crawly, pulling, and the like have been used. On the other hand, there are cases when affected patients have little or no sensation, yet they still experience a strong urge to move. A key factor in restless legs syndrome is the worsening of sensations during relaxation. Any form of inactivity while sitting or lying down can trigger symptoms.

Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment

While movement provides temporary relief to affected patients, the relief is usually only temporary. Restless legs syndrome can be treated by identifying and treating any underlying disorder. Focusing treatment on the underlying condition or conditions may relieve several symptoms. Other treatment techniques used for patients with idiopathic RLS are mostly focused on alleviating symptoms.

Drugs used for treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome


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