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The restless legs syndrome
  1. K Ray Chaudhuri
  1. Regional Movement Disorders Unit, King’s College Hospital, University Hospital Lewisham, Guy’s, King’s & St Thomas’ School of Biomedical Medicine, King’s College, London, UK; E-mail: Ray.chaudhuri{at}

Time to recognize a very common movement disorder



The Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common movement disorder with sensorimotor symptoms that are felt during quiet wakefulness and getting to sleep. Recently, Yoakum 1994 described it as the ‘the most common disorder you’ve never heard of’, a rather apt phrase. The term ‘Restless Legs Syndrome’ was first introduced in 1945 by Karl-Axel Ekbom, and it is known as Ekbom’s syndrome (Ekbom 1945). The syndrome can present in primary or secondary care, is still under-recognized and is often regarded as a neurosis (Chaudhuri et al. 2001). In spite of being treatable, the RLS is generally poorly managed and often inappropriate drugs are prescribed.


The earliest description of restless legs associated with sleep problems was probably by Sir Thomas Willis (1672), an English physician, in a chapter entitled ‘Instructions for Curing the Watching-Evil’:

‘Wherefore to some, when being abed they betake themselves to sleep, presently in the arms

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