What is Ekborn Syndrome?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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Ekborn syndrome, also called Wittmaack-Ekborn or Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a condition that poses a challenge to nearly 3% of the population. The condition is characterized by involuntary movements of the legs, and uncomfortable or prickly sensations in the legs. This especially occurs when people are in a relaxed state, such as right before bed at night. The symptoms can be hard to manage because they keep people from fully relaxing and often from sleeping well.

In quite a few cases, there’s no known cause of Ekborn Syndrome. The only possible link is that the condition may be inherited. Inheritance is not fully understood. When RLS has no underlying cause that can be identified, it is called primary or idiopathic RLS.

In other cases, Ekborn syndrome has specific causes and is called secondary RLS, which may respond to treatment well, and reduce RLS symptoms. Iron deficiency is a major cause that can be addressed by taking iron supplements. Pregnancy can result in temporary cases of Ekborn syndrome. RLS may become a symptom of conditions like thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, certain forms of arthritis, diabetes, and some autoimmune conditions. Managing these conditions can help people overcome RLS in many cases. Certain types of secondary RLS, like that resulting from Parkinson’s disease may be much harder to treat, since treatment for the primary illness remains elusive.


Anyone can get Ekborn syndrome, though it is most likely to occur in people who are 40 or older. The senior citizen population seems to suffer the most from it, and the condition tends to get progressively worse as one ages. It is not unusual for the condition to occur in children or young adults, and in most cases treatment is required to help avoid complications of the syndrome.

The basic symptoms that must be present in order to diagnose RLS are the following:

1. Feeling a need, unconsciously expressed, that one must move the legs.
2. When moving the legs voluntarily, some of the symptoms are reduced.
3. More severe symptoms occur at night or during periods of relaxation during the day.

Many things can be attempted to help sufferers with Ekborn syndrome. First off, many people benefit from getting iron supplements, regularly exercising, and reducing intake of foods with stimulants like caffeine. Certain drugs can exacerbate the problem, and when possible, these are eliminated. For instance, taking antihistamines or cold medicine can increase symptoms. Finding steroidal area specific antihistamines can help reduce allergies without increasing symptoms. Some people benefit from a diet lower in gluten and simple starches.

Many people do require additional medical treatments to address RLS. Drugs that increase dopamine levels are frequently used, including ropinirole, one of the newest drugs to emerge for the treatment of both Parkinson’s disease and RLS, and pramipexole. Some people with Ekborn syndrome are better aided by taking sleep medications or tranquilizers, pain relievers like codeine, or anticonvulsants.

When RLS is controlled through medication, diet, and occasionally alternative therapies like acupuncture, many people find great improvement in their symptoms. This can overall have an extremely beneficial effect on their quality of life. With fewer symptoms come better sleep, more opportunities to relax, and the chance to live a fully normal life.


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