Restless Legs Syndrome: A Literature Review

Agnė Pacevičiūtė1, Austėja Malinauskaitė1, Irina Mitkienė2

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Medical Academy, Faculty of Medicine

2S. Kudirka District Hospital Alytus


Introduction: restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a movement disorder characterized by an uncontrolled desire to move due to unpleasant, sometimes painful sensation in the legs. Two forms of the disease are distinguished: primary, which is related to family history, and secondary, which is related to comorbidities. The prevalence of clinically significant disease is 1-2%, and its frequency increases with age.

Aim: To review pathogenesis, diagnostics and treatment of RLS.

Methodology: the literature used for this review was selected using the “Pubmed” database. Following dates from 2014 to 2021, using keywords: “restless legs syndrome “, “Willis-Ekbom disease”, “augmentation”. Exclusion criteria were applied to articles related to psychiatric disorders. More than 30 publications on RLS were analyzed.

Results: iron deficiency, dopaminergic dysfunction and genetic factors play an important role in the pathogenesis of RLS. RLS is diagnosed according to the standardized criteria of the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group, which was last updated in 2014. Dopamine receptor agonists remain an effective treatment for this disease, however, symptoms may be exacerbated or even impulse control may occur with these medications. There is also evidence that cannabis use may also reduce the symptoms of RLS.

Conclusions: RLS is known to be associated with comorbidities, family history, and dopaminergic dysfunction. This disorder is diagnosed on a clinical basis, and both non-pharmacological and pharmacological measures play an important role in the treatment, but there is no treatment that will help the patient recover without causing significant side effects.

Keywords: restless legs syndrome, Willis-Ekbom disease, augmentation.