What is restless leg syndrome (RLS)

A condition in which the legs twitch involuntarily usually when sitting or lying quietly at rest. It may be mild, with occasional tingling and small areas of twitching, or severe enough that the legs appear to be walking or running of their own volition. Most people also experience “crawling” or “pins and needles” sensations, feelings of hot or cold liquid running through their muscles, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and sometimes outright pain that affects both legs equally as aspects of RLS. These sensory symptoms and their symmetrical (bilateral) nature help to distinguish RLS from Parkinson’s symptoms. Restless leg syndrome is not confined to people with Parkinson’s and can occur in people who do not have any other medical problem; doctors consider it an independent movement disorder rather than a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, although RLS is common in people who have or later develop Parkinson’s. RLS can significantly interfere with sleep, although it is not itself considered a sleep DISORDER.

DOPAMINE AGONIST MEDICATIONS such as pramipexol (Mirapex), ropinerole (Requip), or pergolide (Permax) are typically the first line agents used for this disorder. Other agents used include levodopa (Sinemet), muscle relaxants such as clonazepam (Klonopin) or temazepam (Restoril), gabapentin (Neurontin), clonidine, or opiates. Adjusting the anti-parkinson’s medications regimen is usually enough to end, or at least significantly reduce, the symptoms. In most people who have restless leg syndrome, whether or not they have Parkinson’s, symptoms tend to appear gradually over many years. Doctors do not know what causes RLS or why, even in people who do not have Parkinson’s, it responds to treatment with dopaminergic medications (including, in people who do not have Parkinson’s disease, lEvodopa).