Restless legs syndrome: a brief review of diagnosis and acupuncture treatment

What is Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common disorder affecting 7.0% population in some European countries, and the symptoms are normally demonstrated as uncomfortable sensations such as pain that may be associated with the urge to move the leg and usually occurs at night. The movement of the lower extremities can release the uncomfortable sensation, yet the sleep quality will be disturbed by RLS.

Pathophysiology of Restless legs

The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms is now said related to the dysregulation of iron regulation and its impact on dopamine metabolism. However, our current understanding of this disease is incomplete.

WM treatment for Restless legs

Current treatments for restless legs syndrome approved by the US Food and Drug Administration include Ropinirole, Pramipexole, Rotigotine patch, Gabapentin enacarbil, Relaxis.

Chinese medicine diagnosis for Restless legs

The diagnosis of restless legs is related to liver, spleen, and kidney yin deficiency, which leads to less nourishment for the muscle and tendon; Also the external cold dampness will retain in the channels and develop into dampness and heat.

Treatment of Restless legs by herbs and acupuncture

Chinese herbs and acupuncture are normally applied to Restless leg syndrome to release the tension of the muscle and tendon, and nourish liver, spleen and kidney yin deficiency, A meta- analysis showed that acupuncture has good result for this disease, yet the evidence quality of the clinical research still need to improve.

Author: Catherine (Yiyu) Chen

30 August 2021


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3. Tipton PW, Wszołek ZK. Restless legs syndrome and nocturnal leg cramps: a review and guide to diagnosis and treatment. Pol Arch Intern Med. 2017 Dec 22;127(12):865-872. doi: 10.20452/pamw.4148. Epub 2017 Nov 9. PMID: 29120993.

4. ZHOU Rui, LI Kesong, ZHUANG Lixing. Cumulative Meta-analysis on efficacy of acupuncture therapy for restless legs syndrome[J]. Tianjin Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2019, 36(6): 579-583.

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