Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common disorder that presents with irresistible urges to move the legs and motor restlessness, worsening in the evening. RLS commonly causes insomnia and associated daytime symptoms. Treatment of first choice for RLS is usually medication, but medications are often ineffective or poorly tolerated. An effective nonpharmacologic therapy would be highly desirable.
Here we review RLS and its treatment and present data from a pilot study on the effect of a novel treatment for this condition. The objective of this study was to determine the therapeutic effect of pneumatic sequential compression devices (SCDs) on RLS symptoms.
We performed an uncontrolled, prospective interventional study using SCDs on a convenience sample of adults reliably diagnosed with RLS. Patients were asked to wear the SCD for an hour each evening before the usual time of onset of restless legs symptoms. Before and after 1-3 months of SCD therapy, patients completed validated questionnaires to assess RLS severity, daytime sleepiness, and impact of RLS on quality of life in the domains of social function, daily task function, sleep quality, and emotional well-being.
Compliance with SCD therapy was measured using patient-recorded logs.Of 10 patients (7 women; age range, 37-80 yr; mean age, 56 yr), symptomatic for a mean of 68 months (range, 12-360 mo), 1 could not tolerate wearing the SCD and withdrew from the protocol after 3 days. The remaining 9 patients complied with therapy 58%-100% of nights (mean, 82%).
Three patients experienced complete resolution of RLS and 6 patients had improvement of symptoms. Group severity score improved from 24/40 to 8/40 (p = 0.001). Epworth Sleepiness Scale score improved from 12/24 to 8/24 (p = 0.05). Every quality of life score improved: social function from 74% to 96% (p = 0.04), daily task function 63% to 80% (p = 0.05), sleep quality 27% to 63% (p = 0.003), and emotional well-being from 49% to 83% (p = 0.02).
In this group of patients, wearing the SCD in the evening for an hour improved symptoms of RLS and improved quality of life, with complete resolution of symptoms in 3 of 10 patients.
Source: Medicine (Baltimore). 2007 Nov;86(6):317-323. PMID: 18004176, by Eliasson AH, Lettieri CJ. Department of Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC; Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.