Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day To Be Held On September 23, 2012
ROCHESTER, Minn., Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For far too many people, the symptoms are all-too familiar: uncomfortable, even painful, sensations in the legs while at rest. Tingling, twitching, throbbing or “antsy” feelings in the calves or thighs and even arms that make you want to get up, stretch, and move around.
While these sensations can be hard to describe, the diagnosis isn’t. It’s called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS/WED, or Willis-Ekbom disease) – and it affects hundreds of thousands of people each year.
This year, the RLS Foundation in the United States and Canada, the European Alliance for Restless Legs Syndrome (EARLS), the European Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (EU-RLSSG), the International RLS Study Group (IRLSSG), and the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) have joined forces to create an international coalition of individuals affected by the disease, and clinicians and neuroscientists dedicated to solving the mysteries of RLS/WED.
On September 23, 2012, these groups are coming together to recognize International Restless Legs Syndrome Day – an international awareness day dedicated to the continuation of educating the public and working together as we take steps towards developing better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for RLS.
RLS is a chronic neurological disorder that can affect anyone – from any age, sex, or race. People with RLS often feel as though they have to move their legs, by walking or stretching, in order to make the uncomfortable feelings go away. These sensations tend to get worse when at rest, like when going to sleep at night, watching television or taking a long car ride. Because the symptoms usually intensify in the evening, they often interfere with the ability to sleep.
In addition to feelings of discomfort and frustration, patients diagnosed with RLS have a decreased quality of life and decreased work productivity. Furthermore, there is emerging evidence suggesting that RLS might be associated with increased cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk. While the causes of RLS are not completely understood, genetic factors (frequently affecting several members of the same family) seem to play an important role. In fact, several genes have been identified with an increased risk of RLS. Other factors that may cause RLS include iron metabolism and, possibly, neurotransmitter dysfunctions, such as dopamine and glutamate.
Managing Restless Legs Syndrome
While there is currently no cure for Restless Legs Syndrome, there is effective treatment. Mild RLS symptoms can often be successfully managed and controlled with lifestyle changes, such as exercise and good sleep hygiene.
For moderate and more severe cases of Restless Legs Syndrome, prescription medications can be helpful in managing the condition. In fact, in 2012, a ten-member task force from the International RLS Study Group released the “Summary of Recommendations for the Long-Term Treatment of RLS/WED.” The report outlined several classes of drugs that have been shown to be effective in the long-term treatment of RLS.
These medications include:
- Dopamine agonists, including pramipexole, ropinirole, and rotigotine.
- Dopamine precursors, such as levodopa.
- Antiepileptic agents, such as pregabalin and gabapentin enacarbil.
For more information on treatment guidelines – and a full copy of the IRLSSG’s “Summary of Recommendations for the Long-Term Treatment of RLS/WED” paper – visit www.irlssg.org.
2012 Restless Legs Syndrome Survey Results
In August 2012, the European Alliance for Restless Legs Syndrome, in cooperation with the U.S.-based Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, completed a survey of more than 3,900 RLS patients in Europe and North America. The committee’s goal was to understand RLS patients’ health and how their quality of life is changed by treatment.
One major find of the survey is the need for increased awareness of Restless Legs Syndrome – among both doctors and the general public. RLS goes too often un- and under-diagnosed, a fact confirmed by the survey, which found that 68% of RLS patients waited three years or more from the time of their first symptoms to diagnosis. Fifty-five percent (55%) waited more than 10 years. Because RLS is often at least partly treatable, quick diagnosis and correct medical treatment are vital, benefiting both the patient and society.
International Restless Legs Syndrome Day
“RLS Awareness Day 2012 is designed not only to honor the many accomplishments we have made so far, but also to recognize that we still have a long way to go,” says Georgianna Bell, Executive Director of the RLS Foundation in the United States and Canada. “There are still so many people with RLS/WED who don’t have access to the resources or information they need to be educated about their disease. In addition, we need research to develop better treatments and to help people lead healthy and productive lives.”
Together with EARLS, an umbrella organization of ten European RLS patient advocacy groups, and RLS groups in Australia and Japan, this international awareness day reflects a message shared by everyone affected by RLS/WED, their healthcare providers, and the RLS/WED research community.
Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day 2012 has been generously supported through an unrestricted educational grant from XenoPort.
SOURCE World Association of Sleep Medicine