(RTTNews) - Restless legs syndrome, also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a lifelong neurological condition that is characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs to relieve unpleasant sensations such as creeping, crawling, pulling, itching, tingling or burning sensations. Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours, and are often most severe at night, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 12 million people in the U.S. are reported to have restless legs syndrome.
Every year, September 23, is observed as RLS Awareness Day to educate the public about this neurologic and sleep-related movement disorder, and today marks that day. The first Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day was observed on September 23, 2012.
September 23 marks the birth date of Professor Karl-Axel Ekborn, a Swedish neurologist, who provided a detailed description of this disease in his doctoral thesis in 1945. The first to describe RLS was Sir Thomas Willis in the year 1672. Hence the name Willis-Ekbom Disease for restless legs syndrome.
It is not clear as to what exactly causes RLS. But specific gene variants, low levels of iron in the brain, changes in the dopamine system and certain underlying conditions like essential tremor and Parkinson's Disease are thought to be the culprits.
Although there is no cure, Ropinirole, marketed as Requip by GlaxoSmithKline; Mirapex, developed by Boehringer Ingelheim; Horizant, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and XenoPort Inc; and Neupro, developed by Schwarz Pharma are some of the FDA-approved medications to reduce the symptoms of RLS.