Clinical presentation of restless legs syndrome: Does the gender matter?

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This study was conducted to find out whether higher prevalence of females among restless legs syndrome (RLS) patients in a clinical setting is related to clinical presentation and co-morbid conditions. A total of 173 consecutive patients with idiopathic RLS were included in this study after obtaining permission from the institutional ethics committee. Their demographic data, history of RLS, associated sleep problems and family history were gathered. Severity of RLS was also measured with the help of IRLS. Results have shown that out of 173 subjects, 29.6% were males. Male subjects in this study were nearly 4 years older than females (P = 0.04). Symptoms were experienced in both legs in all subjects except 3% of females who reported involvement of one leg. Some of the patients reported symptoms in other parts of body as well! 27.5% of males and 33.6% of females reported involvement of other parts of body in addition to the legs (χ2 = 0.62; P = 0.27). Explanations of sensory symptoms e.g., “tingling”, “restlessness”, “tickling” were two times more common in females while males reported “pricking”, “just pain” and “stretching” twice as commonly as females. Severity of RLS did not differ between groups (χ2 = 1.51; P = 0.67). Similarly, sleep problems were comparable across genders (88.2% males vs. 93.4% females; χ2 = 1.31; P = 0.25). Family history was comparable across genders. In conclusion, clinical presentation of RLS did not differ across genders. The observed female predominance in the RLS is not related to clinical presentation.

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