Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological movement disorder characterized by a compelling urge to move the legs usually accompanied by an uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations.
The prevalence of RLS in the general population is 5%–10%, making it the most common movement disorder. Symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity, are partially or totally relieved by movement, and are worse in the evening or at night. Despite being a common disorder, RLS is generally under diagnosed.
Prevalence increases with advancing age and the condition is observed more frequently in women. Delayed sleep onset, multiple awakenings, and a reduction in sleep efficiency all contribute to significant sleep disturbance in these patients. RLS can be idiopathic and begin at any age, or secondary to conditions such as, iron deficiency, renal failure, nephropathy, and normal pregnancy.
Although the etiology of RLS is still unclear, evidence suggests that the symptoms result from central dopamine dysfunction. Although results should be interpreted with caution, brain-imaging studies have shown abnormal dopamine receptor binding and dopamine hypo-activity. Iron deficiency has also been implicated in the etiology of RLS.