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Restless Leg Syndrome
Topic Started: Mar 27 2011, 10:26 PM (158 Views)
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Restless Leg Syndrome
Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD


What is restless leg syndrome?
What causes restless leg syndrome?
Can other conditions mimic restless leg syndrome?
What is the treatment for restless leg syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome At A Glance

Related restless leg syndrome articles:
Restless leg syndrome - on WebMD
Read what your doctor is reading:
Restless legs syndrome - on Medscape

What is restless leg syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome is a common cause of painful legs. The leg pain of restless leg syndrome typically eases with motion of the legs and becomes more noticeable at rest. Restless leg syndrome also features worsening of symptoms during the early evening or later at night. The characteristic nighttime worsening of symptoms in persons with restless legs syndrome frequency leads to insomnia.

Restless leg syndrome usually begins slowly. Over time, the legs become more affected. Less frequently, restless leg syndrome can affect the arms.


What causes restless leg syndrome?

The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown in most patients. However, restless leg syndrome has been associated with pregnancy, obesity, smoking, iron deficiency and anemia, nerve disease, polyneuropathy (which can be associated with hypothyroidism, heavy metal toxicity, toxins, and many other conditions), other hormone disease, such as diabetes, and kidney failure (which can be associated with vitamin and mineral deficiency). Some drugs and medications have been associated with restless leg syndrome including caffeine, alcohol, H2-histamine blockers (such as Zantac and Tagamet), and certain antidepressants (such as Elavil).

Occasionally, restless legs run in families. Recent studies have shown that restless leg syndrome appears to become more common with age.

Can other conditions mimic restless leg syndrome?

There are many conditions which can mimic restless leg syndrome including muscle diseases, joint conditions, nerve problems, and circulation difficulties.


What is the treatment for restless leg syndrome?

Treatment of restless leg syndrome is first directed toward any underlying illness, if known. For example, a search for iron deficiency by blood testing to reveal underlying iron deficiency anemia. Reduction or elimination of caffeine and alcohol can be very helpful. Stopping smoking can also diminish symptoms. Getting better sleep and exercise can help some persons affected by restless legs.

Medications used to treat restless leg syndrome include carbidopa-levodopa, opioids (such as propoxyphene) or tramadol (Ultram) for intermittent symptoms, carbamazepine, clonazepam, diazepam, triazolam, temazepam, baclofen, bromocriptine, and clonidine. Also, recently, gabapentin (Neurontin) has been found helpful. The FDA has now approved ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex) for the treatment of restless leg syndrome. Other treatments that have been helpful for some patients include avoiding caffeine, warm/cold baths, electric nerve stimulation, oral magnesium, and acupuncture.

Restless Leg Syndrome At A Glance
Restless leg syndrome is a condition marked by unpleasant leg sensations at bedtime.
Restless leg syndrome frequency leads to insomnia.
The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown in most patients, but many conditions have been associated with it.
Treatment of restless leg syndrome is directed toward any underlying illness, if known.
Medications are available for restless leg syndrome.


-- from Nature's Inventory
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