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EDTNA ERCA J. 2001 Jan-Mar;27(1):42-6.

Restless legs syndrome: a review for the renal care professionals.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


Restless legs syndrome is a common neurological disorder with an estimated prevalence between 2 and 10%. It is characterised by an imperative desire to move the extremities associated with paraesthesias, motor restlessness, worsening of symptoms at rest with at least partial relief by activity, and worsening of symptoms in the evening or at night. As a consequence, patients suffer from severe sleep disturbances and, less frequently, from daytime sleepiness. The cause of restless legs syndrome remains unknown. It has been divided into idiopathic and symptomatic (secondary, e.g. uraemic restless legs syndrome) forms. Based on pharmacological, neurophysiological and imaging studies it is suggested that it is a disease of the subcortical central nervous system with involvement of the brainstem and spinal chord. Dopaminergic agents are regarded as the first choice of treatment; however, the development of augmentation of symptoms especially under levodopa therapy may be a major problem. Alternative medications are opioids and benzodiazepines. In secondary restless legs syndrome the underlying illness should be treated first, but dopaminergic drugs may also be helpful.

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