Brain Neurorehabil.  2016 Mar;9(1):25-30. 10.12786/bn.2016.9.1.25.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Korea.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one's body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs. Moving the affected body part, such as walking or stretching provide relief the urge to move the legs and any accompanying unpleasant sensation partially or totally. RLS is relatively common, affecting 5 to 15 % of the general population, with prevalence rates increasing alongside age. Restless legs syndrome can lead to sleep-onset or sleep-maintenance insomnia, and occasionally excessive daytime sleepiness, all leading to significant morbidity. Dopaminergic systems are known to be strongly related with RLS that are closely linked to CNS iron homeostasis. Besides defective dopaminergic system that is closely related with iron metabolism, genetic factors play a role in early-onset individual with a positive family history. The diagnosis can be made based on the symptom characteristics, differential diagnosis is important because many conditions could mimic RLS symptoms. Dopamine agonists (DAs) have been considered the first-line therapy, but with the growing appreciation of problems associated with long-term treatment, particularly augmentation and impulse control disorder, alpha-2-delta drugs, such as gabapentin, are now considered the first line of treatment in patients with troublesome RLS. In more severe cases, a combination therapy may be required.


Restless Legs Syndrome; Dopamine agonist; Augmentation; Sleep disturbance
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