To review the symptoms, differential diagnosis, and treatment of the restless legs syndrome (RLS), and its relevance within rheumatologic practice.
Methods: Review of the scientific literature on RLS to summarize symptom presentation, burden, diagnosis, treatment, and association with rheumatologic conditions.
Results: RLS is a sensorimotor neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by unpleasant sensations within the legs. These sensations are sometimes described as achy or painful. They may cause sleep disruption and impair quality of life.
RLS may be primary, of unknown etiology, with a likely genetic basis, or secondary, provoked by other conditions. Secondary RLS often improves when the underlying condition is treated or resolves.
Since RLS is common in rheumatologic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatologists need to be familiar with the condition. Primary care physicians may misattribute RLS symptoms to other conditions and refer patients to specialists for treatment. Since RLS symptoms can be similar to, and mistaken for, symptoms in rheumatologic diseases, patients may be referred to rheumatologists. Therefore, it is important that rheumatologists be able to recognize, differentiate, diagnose, and treat RLS.
Conclusions: The clinical diagnosis of RLS is based on 4 essential diagnostic criteria related to the urge to move that characterizes this disorder.
n Beyond good sleep hygiene and behavioral measures,
n Dopaminergic [related to the neurotransmitter dopamine] agents are first-line treatments for primary RLS.
n Anticonvulsants, opioids, and sedative/hypnotics may also have a role in management.
Source: Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2007 Oct 29; [E-pub ahead of print] PMID: 17977584 , by Hening WA, Caivano CK. Neurology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.