Epidemiology of restless legs syndrome: The current status

Diego Garcia-Borreguero, Renata Egatz, Juliane Winkelmann, Klaus Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


Epidemiological studies in restless legs syndrome (RLS) have often been limited by misdiagnosis and by the fact that affected individuals, even when their symptoms are severe, might not seek medical care. Some of these limitations have been overcome in the last years as population studies based on face to face interviews have been carried out with new standardized diagnostic criteria. According to these studies, and in contrast to earlier views, RLS has been shown to be a common disorder with prevalences ranging between 2.5 and 10% of the population. Although few studies performed outside Europe/North America have shown a low prevalence, a number of methodological issues have been raised that might question these results. Furthermore, once established, RLS usually follows a chronic course, and preliminary evidence shows that it might worsen over time in some patients. Endstage renal disease, increasing age, female gender, pregnancy, frequent blood donations, iron deficiency and neuropathy are considered to be risk factors for this disorder. The association to RLS is less definitely established for other conditions, such as PD or diabetes. In summary, epidemiological evidence suggests that RLS is a common neurological disorder-with high impact on many aspects of the life of those affected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-167
Number of pages15
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Epidemiology
  • Gender
  • Genetics
  • Restless legs


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