Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a sensory-motor neurological disorder that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs. It often begins at a very young age but is mostly diagnosed in the middle or later years.
When an involuntary twitching or jerking of the legs occurs during sleep, it is known as Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS).
The prevalence of RLS in the U.S and Europe is quoted to be around seven to 10 percent, whereas in Asia, it is reported to be around one to four percent. A local study done in Singapore showed a RLS prevalence of less than one percent. It is more common in women.
80 percent of RLS patients have PLMS. PLMS is usually picked up incidentally on overnight sleep studies. It is only clinically significant if it causes symptoms.
RLS can affect your quality of life.
Both RLS and PLMS can disturb sleep
by causing sleep initiation insomnia
and sleep maintenance insomnia
In the majority of cases, the
underlying cause is unknown.
Iron metabolism and
dopamine, a neurochemical in
the brain, are believed to play
a role in causing RLS/PLMS.
RLS are often seen in patients with
low iron levels, kidney failure, diabetes
mellitus and low thyroid hormone.
About one in five pregnant women
suffer from RLS in the last three
months of pregnancy. The symptoms
usually disappear after delivery.
Some medications, for example,
antidepressants, can trigger and
First, to treat the underlying cause,
if any. This includes stopping any
medications that can trigger RLS/PLMS,
It is important to maintain good sleep
hygiene, quit smoking and exercise
regularly during the day.
The drug treatment includes:
dopamine agonists, alfa-2
delta ligands (gabapentin,
pregabalin) and opioids.
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