Restless legs syndrome/Willis–Ekbom disease

Luigi Ferini-Strambi and Sara Marelli

in Oxford Textbook of Sleep Disorders

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print July 2017 | ISBN: 9780199682003
Published online June 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191761744 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks in Clinical Neurology

Restless legs syndrome/Willis–Ekbom disease

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Restless legs syndrome (RLS)/Willis–Ekbom disease (WED), is a common neurological disorder characterized by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs, with an urge to move. The general population prevalence has been estimated at approximately 5%. In 1995, the International RLS/WED Study Group established four clinical criteria for RLS/WED diagnosis, and in 2012 introduced a fifth (that symptoms are not due to another medical or behavioral condition) to improve differential diagnosis. Periodic leg movements causing sleep fragmentation may be observed in almost 80% of RLS/WED patients. Genetics, central nervous system dopamine dysregulation, and brain iron deficiency seem to be the primary involved factors, but peripheral phenomena may also contribute to the pathophysiology. Several medications have demonstrated efficacy in treating RLS/WED, including dopaminergic agents, alpha-2-delta ligands, and opioids. Pharmacological therapy should be limited to those patients who suffer from clinically relevant symptoms with impaired sleep quality or quality of life.

Chapter.  7464 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Sleep Medicine

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