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Restless Legs Syndrome

Fact Sheet NINDS Restless Legs Syndrome Information Page

Condensed from Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet

Table of Contents
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being done?

Organizations
Publicaciones en Español
Additional resources from MEDLINEplus

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Individuals affected with the disorder describe the sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.

Is there any treatment?

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. In 2005, ropinirole became the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS.

What is the prognosis?

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 patients have remissions, periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, or months, although symptoms usually eventually reappear.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support RLS research in laboratories at the NIH and at major medical institutions across the country. The goal of this research is to increase scientific understanding of RLS, find improved methods of diagnosing and treating the syndrome, and discover ways to prevent it.

Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.

Organizations

Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
819 Second Street, SW
Rochester, MN 55902-2985
[email protected]
http://www.rls.org
Tel: 507-287-6465
Fax: 507-287-6312

National Sleep Foundation
1522 K Street NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
[email protected]
http://www.sleepfoundation.org
Tel: 202-347-3471
Fax: 202-347-3472

WE MOVE (Worldwide Education & Awareness for Movement Disorders)
204 West 84th Street
New York, NY 10024
[email protected]
http://www.wemove.org
Tel: 212-875-8312
Fax: 212-875-8389

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 1968
(55 Kenosia Avenue)
Danbury, CT 06813-1968
[email protected]
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

Publicaciones en Español

Síndrome de las Piernas Inquietas
Información del Síndrome de las Piernas Inquietas/Spanish-language fact sheet on Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated April 24, 2006

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