Are you one of the thousands of people who can’t rest in the evenings because you have an intense need to move your legs? Do you feel like there are little lightening flashes in your feet or legs when you get into bed at night? If so, then you will be very happy to read the rest of this article.

For the first time the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a medication for the common but baffling condition known as restless legs syndrome (RLS).

“This approval is an important advance in the treatment of RLS and offers proven therapy for people living with this disorder,” said David Rye, MC, PhD. “It is our hope that more patients will recognize their symptoms and will talk to their doctors about them.” Dr. Rye is the Chair of the RLS Foundation Medical Advisory Board and Director of the Emory Healthcare Program in Sleep Medicine, Atlanta, GA.

Restless legs syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs usually accompanied by uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs. The sensations occur during periods of inactivity; become more severe in the evening and at night; are temporarily relieved by movement of the legs, but recur shortly after the limbs are still; may cause involuntary jerking of the limbs during sleep and sometimes during wakefulness and often cause difficulty falling or remaining asleep, thereby causing sleep deprivation

People with RLS also suffer from under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Because the symptoms are difficult to describe, some people have either been dismissed by their physicians or have received inappropriate referrals to psychiatrists because their physicians thought that the sensations were imaginary.

As a result of the FDA’s action, physician awareness of RLS will ultimately increase, resulting in more accurate diagnosis and treatments for patients. People with RLS should discuss their condition and their overall medical history with their doctor.

The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, a non-profit agency, provides information and support for people living with RLS. In the Foundation’s view, the first FDA approval of a medication for RLS represents a significant step forward in patient care.

A Windham resident for many years, and a sufferer of restless legs, I am a volunteer coordinator for the Maine RLS Support Group. The group meets periodically throughout the year to learn from each other and to discuss life-style techniques that can help relieve some of the symptoms. I also attend the annual meetings of the RLS Foundation and brings back up-to-date information about ongoing research.

For more information, please call the toll-free 1-877-463-6757 or visit the Foundation website: www.rls.org. For information about the Maine RLS Support Group, please contact Sally Breen at 207-892-8391 or [email protected]