Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation Releases New Treatment Recommendations for WED/RLS

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Revised treatment recommendations expand options for patients with Willis-Ekbom disease/restless legs syndrome.

An updated algorithm brings both expert clinical opinion and evidence-based findings on treatment strategies into the hands of healthcare providers who treat Willis-Ekbom disease, also known as restless legs syndrome or WED/RLS, a neurological condition requiring treatment in 1 to 3 percent of the general population.

The Medical Advisory Board of the Willis Ekbom Disease Foundation (formerly Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation) published a new disease management consensus statement in the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation Revised Consensus Statement on the Management of Restless Legs Syndrome*. Revised from 2004, the algorithm incorporates strategies from almost a decade of research and clinical developments.

The algorithm is based on an extensive literature review and consensus among leading WED/RLS experts on the Medical Advisory Board. Updates include:

  •     Addition of calcium channel alph-2-delta ligands as first-line therapy
  •     Food and Drug Administration approval of four medications for WED/RLS
  •     New dosing recommendations for several medications based on severity of symptoms
  •     Updated guidelines for iron testing and supplemental iron therapy
  •     Discussion on managing severe cases with combination therapy

WED/RLS is characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs, accompanied by unpleasant or painful sensations. Symptoms can severely impact quality of life; patients commonly experience chronic insomnia and depression.

“These patients really need help, and our hope in this algorithm is that we will provide information which can lead both primary care physicians and more specialist physicians to provide optimal, appropriate and adequate care,” says Michael Silber, MBchB, chair of the WED Foundation Medical Advisory Board and neurologist at Mayo Clinic.

Since 2004, evidence-based articles on treating the disease have been published by organizations such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group(http://irlssg.org/). Such reviews are valuable but not always practical for busy primary care doctors treating patients with a variety of needs.

“We are fortunate to have a number of treatments which work effectively. It’s really a matter of identifying the patients and selecting the correct approach for each specific patient to relieve their distress,” says Dr. Silber.

WED Foundation Executive Director Georgianna Bell says, “Publication of this consensus statement marks another important milestone for the Foundation as the trusted source of science-based information. We are grateful for the contributions of the internationally recognized experts on our Medical Advisory Board. Our important work could not continue without their guidance.”


About the WED Foundation

The WED Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of men, women and children who live with Willis-Ekbom disease. Founded in 1989 in Rochester, Minnesota, the Foundation’s goals are to increase awareness, improve treatments, and through research, find a cure. The Foundation serves healthcare providers, researchers, over 5,000 members, and millions of individuals in the United States and Canada. The Foundation has awarded $1.4 million to fund medical research on WED/RLS causes and treatments. Visit http://www.willis-ekbom.org.

Georgianna Bell
WED Foundation
(507) 287-6465

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Georgianna Bell
WED Foundation
+1 (507) 287-6465
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