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Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

About Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a common neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations of the legs and an urge to move them for relief. Individuals affected with the disorder describe the sensations as pulling, drawing, crawling, wormy, boring, tingling, pins and needles, prickly, and sometimes painful sensations that are usually accompanied by an overwhelming urge to move the legs. Movement provides temporary relief from the discomfort.

Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Massage and application of cold compresses may provide temporary relief. Medications such as temazepam, levodopa/carbidopa, bromocriptine, pergolide mesylate, oxycodone, propoxyphene, and codeine are effective in relieving the symptoms. Current research suggests that correction of iron deficiency may improve symptoms for some patients.

Prognosis for Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. Symptoms may gradually worsen with age. Because symptoms are intensified by inactivity and lying down, Restless Legs Syndrome patients often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, Restless Legs Syndrome causes exhaustion and fatigue, which can affect occupational performance, social activities, and family life.

Research on Restless Legs Syndrome

Mild iron deficiency is common, even in people who are not anemic. When iron deficiency is the cause of Restless Legs Syndrome, supplementation with iron has been reported to reduce the severity of the symptoms. In one trial,74 mg of iron taken three times a day for two months, reduced symptoms in people with Restless Legs Syndrome. In people who are not deficient in iron, iron supplementation has been reported to not help reduce symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome.

Reference for Restless Legs Syndrome Article

  • O’Keeffe ST, Gavin K, Lavan JN. Iron status and restless legs syndrome in the elderly. Age Ageing 1994;23:200–3.
  • Davis BJ, Rajput A, Rajput ML, et al. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of iron in restless legs syndrome. Eur Neurol 2000;43:70–5.
  • National Institutes of Health

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