Restless legs syndrome

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By Pinky Agarwal MD, Narendra Vaish PhD, and Sindhu R Srivatsal MD MPH

Restless legs syndrome is also known as or subsumes Anxietas tibiarum and Leg jitters. -ed.

The sensory symptoms of restless legs syndrome are paresthesias and dysesthesias in the calves and legs. Descriptions of these phenomena include words such as aching, pulling, drawing, numbness, tingling, prickling, creeping, or crawling. The unpleasant sensations occur during rest and inactivity, and are worse in the late evening and when attempting to sleep. In this clinical summary, Dr. Pinky Agarwal of the Booth Gardner Parkinson Center at Evergreen Hospital Medical Center, Dr. Narendra Vaish of GenomeRx, LLC, and Dr. Sindhu R Srivatsal of the University of Washington Medical Center discuss the genetics, clinical features, diagnosis and differential diagnosis, etiology, pathophysiology, management, and prognosis of this common disorder. Management of special conditions, such as restless legs syndrome in pregnancy, are addressed as well. The current update includes recent literature on insights into the etiopathogenesis of restless legs syndrome.

Key Points

  • Restless legs syndrome is an underdiagnosed and a very common disorder, often with a positive family history.
  • Several genetic linkages have been identified.
  • Restless legs syndrome may be primary or secondary to other conditions.
  • Treatment is generally quite effective, though sometimes drugs are associated with side effects.
  • Several potential drugs are currently under investigation for treatment of restless legs syndrome.

In This Article

Historical note and nomenclature
Clinical manifestations
Clinical vignette
Pathogenesis and pathophysiology
Differential diagnosis
Diagnostic workup
Prognosis and complications
References cited