The real burden of restless legs syndrome: clinical and economic outcomes.

Rachel E. Salas, Anthony B. Kwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a highly prevalent and substantially underdiagnosed sensorimotor disorder. Only relatively recently have the large impact on patient quality of life (QoL) and the economic burden associated with RLS become more widely recognized. QoL in patients with RLS has been shown to be worse than that of many other chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, clinical depression, and osteoarthritis. Sleep disturbance, a cardinal feature of RLS, is the most common and most destructive of its symptoms. More than two-thirds of RLS patients experience serious insomnia, and waking up several times per night is typical for this patient population. Moreover, RLS disrupts rest during waking hours, such as when the patient is sitting or relaxing. Thus, whether awake or asleep, the RLS patient finds little opportunity for the general restorative behaviors necessary for healthy human functioning, resulting in high rates of comorbidities including depression, anxiety, and hypertension. The direct and indirect costs related to RLS have been evaluated in a few studies. Although the cost studies are associated with certain limitations (eg, use of questionnaires), the results show that costs related to RLS are substantial. Healthcare utilization, primarily in the form of doctor visits, constitutes the largest proportion of direct expenditures for RLS in the United States. Indirect costs are also large, primarily due to productivity losses, which are as high as 20% in RLS patients. Effective treatment of RLS is necessary to limit the negative effects of RLS on QoL and to reduce costs associated with the condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S207-212
JournalThe American journal of managed care
Issue number9 Suppl
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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