Who is affected by restless legs syndrome

About 10 out of 100 of people are affected by symptoms of restless legs syndrome. And about 2 or 3 out of 100 people have symptoms that are bad enough to need treatment.1 The condition may also occur in children, although the symptoms may not be recognized. Most people diagnosed with restless legs syndrome are middle-aged and older.

Episodes usually occur sporadically in early adulthood, gradually increasing in frequency. After age 50, many people with this condition have daily occurrences.2

Some estimates suggest that restless legs syndrome affects twice as many women as men. Up to 20 out of 100 women develop it during pregnancy, although it usually goes away without treatment soon after the baby is born.3


  1. Lesage S, Hening WA (2004). The restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder: A review of management. Seminars in Neurology, 24(3): 249–259.
  2. Allen RP, Earley CJ (2001). Restless legs syndrome: A review of clinical and pathophysiologic features. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 18(2): 128–147.
  3. Pack AM, Morrell MJ (2005). Neurologic disease during pregnancy. In LP Rowland, ed., Merritt's Neurology, 11th ed., pp. 1116–1117. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: March 13, 2009

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