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RLS Resources

Restless leg syndrome can be debilitating but you're not alone. Below, we will share various resources, research, and updates to help the RLS community better manage this condition.


What is RLS?

If you're here, you've likely had or heard about that itching, crawling, tingling, pulling sensation associated with RLS. But what actually defines restless leg syndrome? According to the International Restless Leg Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG), the five criteria for restless leg syndrome are:
  • An overwhelming urge to move your legs, especially along with uncomfortable or unusual feelings
  • An urge that starts or gets worse while you’re at rest
  • An urge that goes away, either partly or totally, when you move
  • An urge that starts or gets worse in the evening
  • Another condition, such as leg cramps, arthritis, or muscle pains, isn’t causing it
A sleep study and neurological exam can check for nerve damage, circulatory problems, or other sleep disorders that can cause RLS. For this reason, if you think you have restless leg syndrome, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your medical care provider.
Link to IRLSSG


The Gender Gap

Did you know that women are approximately 2.5 times more likely to experience restless leg syndrome than men? Dr. Charlene Gamaldo is the Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Center and she theorizes that there may be a relation between iron deficiency and restless legs.  This would help explain why women are more likely to experience restless legs when pregnant, premenopausal, or premenstruation. 




According to the Mayo Clinic, 80% of people with restless leg syndrome also experience a condition called Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). PLMD is defined as the repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs and/or arms. Interestingly, it is the only movement disorder that occurs during sleep. While many people with RLS have PLMD, only a minority of people with PLMD also have RLS. 
Link to Mayo Clinic


Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment

Ask ten people what they use for RLS remedies and you'll probably get 11 answers. Unfortunately there is no known restless leg syndrome cure and no one drug works for everyone. There are, however, several categories of drugs which have been shown to impact RLS symptoms and can provide some relief.  They generally fall into the following categories:

  • Dopamine related medications (such as levodopa, pramipexole, ropinirole and rotigotine) however excessive sleepiness, increased compulsive behavior and more commonly, augmentation, a paradoxical worsening of symptoms, may occur with these medications after extended use.
  • Opiates (such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, methadone, buprenorphine and pentazocine) have been shown to be effective against RLS since Dr. Willis described this disease in 1685. As with all opiates, side effects and long term effects should be considered before starting any new drug regimen.
  • Benzodiazepines Receptor Agonists are also known as sleeping pills and can have valium-like effects.
  • Alpha-2 delta Drugs (such as gabapentin, pregabalin, and gabapentin ecacarbil) interact with calcium channel proteins and are important in activating, deactivating, and stabilizing the electrical activity of the nerve cell.
  • Iron Supplementation has been shown to be effective not only in RLS patients with anemia but also in patients with average serum ferritin levels. 
  • Non-drug treatments are little studied but offer enormous potential. While several home remedies can be found by searching the web, many offer only temporary relief. However, certain solutions can provide continuous, low risk relief.

Link to Hopkins Medicine


RLS Impacts

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), "untreated moderate to severe RLS can cause a 20% decrease in work productivity and can contribute to depression and anxiety." Other interesting facts about RLS:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome tends to worsen with age
  • 7-10% of the US population experiences RLS
  • RLS has a genetic component and can be found in families where the onset occurs prior to age 40
  • Many medications may lose their effectiveness over time and may even make the condition worse

Link to NIH


The information on this site should not be considered or interpreted as medical advice.  The purpose of the information provided above is to share research, resources, and information with the RLS community. If you think you have Restless Leg Syndrome (also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease) please consult a physician.