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Restless Legs Syndrome Fast Facts


  • RLS is a common neurological disorder which affects 1 in 10 people at any time in their lives.1,2
  • RLS is twice as likely to affect women than men3
  • Recent studies have shown that 2% of children live with RLS in the UK2
  • RLS is often misdiagnosed and is confused with insomnia, growing pains or other neurological conditions in adults and restlessness in children2
  • More than 80% of people with RLS also suffer from period limb movement of sleep (PLMS)3

Burden of disease

  • RLS is a chronic condition in which symptoms may worsen with age3
  • The International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG) has specified four diagnostic criteria for healthcare professionals to look out for when diagnosing RLS. A useful way to remember this is the acronym ‘URGE’:4

- Urge to move the legs

- Rest brings on the symptoms

- Gets better with movement

- Evenings and nights are worst

  • Approximately 75% of RLS patients find their sleep disrupted which impairs cognitive function in the day5
  • Approximately 30% of people with RLS are unable to complete a full day’s work due to the disruption caused by the condition6
  • Approximately 50% of people with RLS have reported that the condition affects their mood and approximately 20% have stated that it also affects personal relationships5

RLS treatments

There is no cure for RLS but dopaminergic agents, (drugs that increase dopamine) are licensed in reducing the symptoms of RLS.3


1. (accessed August 2012)

2. National Sleep Foundation (accessed June 2012)

3. NINDS. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet (accessed June 2012)

4. Garcia-Borreguero et al. Algorithms for the diagnosis and treatment of restless legs syndrome in primary care (EURLSSG Guidelines).BMC Neurology 2011, 11-28.

5. Allen RP et al. REST Study. Arch Intern Med 2005; 165, 1286 – 1292

6. Chaudhuri et al. Restless legs Syndrome Handbook. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Oct 2012 - UK/12NE0079a