Two early descriptions of restless legs syndrome by J. Astruc (1736) and M.A. Weikard (1796)

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Abstract

Objective

To find and analyze early descriptions of restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Methods

Databases and textbooks were searched to document the current knowledge on the history of RLS and to identify additional early descriptions of RLS.

Results

Two recently discovered early descriptions of RLS are presented together with a review of the current knowledge on the history of RLS.

Conclusions

The French physician Jean Astruc described an RLS-like condition in 1736. In his Treatise of the Venereal Disease, he speaks of a minor but frightening kind of pain “wandering all over the Tibia” and leading to “restlessness and tossing of the Feet.” This text was well-known to authors in the 18th and 19th century, but apparently fell into oblivion later on. In his description of “anxietas tibiarum” or “Wadenunruhe,” Melchior Adam Weikard refers to earlier authors. As a dedicated Brunonian physician, he classified it as an asthenic condition and recommended treatment with diluted liquor.

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