Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 987–1007

Restless legs syndrome: a comprehensive overview on its epidemiology, risk factors, and treatment

Review Article

Abstract

Purposes

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is underdiagnosed and poorly understood by clinicians and the general public alike; accordingly, a broad literature review with information most relevant to general practice is needed to help dispel misconceptions and improve level of care.

Methods

Specifically, this review comprehensively provides an epidemiological analysis of RLS and examines the risk factors and treatment options for RLS by compiling the findings of past RLS studies. These RLS studies were identified through a retrospective PubMed search. The epidemiological analysis was conducted by calculating a weighted mean average of all the relevant general population RLS prevalence studies, separated into geographical/racial categories.

Results

A comprehensive analysis of RLS epidemiological studies finds the prevalence rate of RLS to be 5–15% in the general population with 2.5% of adults having symptoms severe enough to require medical intervention. Some of the risk factors for RLS include female gender, pregnancy, low iron levels, lower socioeconomic status, poor health, elderly age, comorbidity with Parkinson’s disease, positive family history of RLS, and comorbidity with psychiatric disorders. A wide array of treatment options exist for RLS including pharmacological and nonpharmacologic interventions.

Conclusions

Clinicians’ understanding of RLS enigma has recently improved due to the increased intensity of RLS research over the past decade. This review summarizes the current findings in the RLS field as well as providing guidelines for future RLS-related research.

Keywords

Restless legs syndrome RLS RLS epidemiology RLS risk factors RLS treatment RLS and race RLS and geography 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Yeh
    • 1
  • Arthur S. Walters
    • 2
  • John W. Tsuang
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Vanderbilt–Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Dual Diagnostic Treatment ProgramHarbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryHarbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical CenterTorranceUSA

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