Restless Legs Syndrome: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that affects the legs and causes an urge to move them. It usually interferes with sleep and is considered as a sleep disorder. 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. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED) or Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome. Restless legs syndrome can begin at any age and generally worsens further.


Recovery Time

Generally it takes long time to recover from the symptoms of RLS.


  • Medical history
  • Blood tests
  • Muscle and nerve studies

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  Is RLS a permanent condition? Will it get progressively worse as I get older?  
In many cases RLS comes and goes but most of those living with the condition will do so for life. In the majority of cases RLS is genetic and therefore passed from generation to generation. Many of those suffering from Primary RLS will find it worsens with age. Secondary RLS gets treated if the underlying cause is identified have less chances of progress with age.

Q2.  I think I may have RLS. What should I do? 
As RLS is sometimes linked to an Iron deficiency in the body, a good first step would be to see you doctor and ask them to check your serum ferritin levels. This is effectively a measure of the body’s iron stores and should be at least 50 lg/L. Your doctor may recommend oral iron supplementation. It is important that iron supplementation is done under a doctor s guidance.

Q3.  Why are medicines used to treat Parkinsons disease also used to treat restless legs syndrome? Is restless legs syndrome a form of Parkinsons disease?
  • Medicines commonly used to treat Parkinsons disease are also used to treat RLS. However, the two conditions are not the same and having RLS does not mean that you will develop Parkinsons disease
  • Both RLS and Parkinsons disease are neurological disorders where dopamine levels in your brain are affected.
  • The medicines your doctor may prescribe to you are also used to treat Parkinsons disease. Levodopa is a type of dopaminergic drug which is converted into dopamine in your brain. Other medicines, such as ropinirole, pramipexole, and rotigotine are types of dopamine agonists, which work by simulating the effects of natural dopamine in your brain. These medicines are recommended if you have moderate to severe symptoms of RLS.
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