She bears witness to Willis-Ekbom, the exhausting disease of “restless legs”

Impatience affects 8.5% of adults in France. Women are affected twice as often. © Illustration Adobe Stock

It is called ” impatient ” Where ” Restless Legs Syndrome“. More official Willis Ekbom“. Behind this name, which connects two English and Swedish doctors, hides a chronic neurological disease affects 8.5% of adults in France. Mainly Womentwice as badly affected.

Drugs to turn yourself off

Unfortunately, Violaine, who lives near Saint-Malo, knows something about it. For eight years she has lived with the daily inconveniences of illness.

It started in the summer of 2014 with night heat and tingling in the legs. At first I blamed it on the summer heat. And then it escalated. It came back every night. No matter what time of year.

Since then, Willis-Ekbom hasn’t let her go, forcing Violaine to take two medications, including an anxiolytic, every night to get some rest.

This is the only solution offered to me. These two drugs together knock me out and at best let me sleep for six hours at a time. After that, the tingling and heat takes over and wakes me up.

Tingling, burning, discharge…

Sensations of anger, tingling, burning, heat, torsion, muscle contractures, electric shocks on feet, legs and arms: That is the long list of symptoms of the disease.

In the mildest cases, the discomfort is moderate and tolerable. In the most severe cases, the pain is almost unbearable.

Just rest

Special feature of all these symptoms: they manifest themselves only at rest“. When you are sitting, lying, about to fall asleep or already in Morpheus’ arms.

“He barely slept three hours a night”

Often people have no choice and have to get up at night. If possible, they walk on cool tiles and splash cold water on their legs to relieve themselves.

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Therefore, this disease often leads to great fatigue. I remember meeting a young man during a meeting who was exhausted. He barely slept three hours a night. No medication worked. He couldn’t take it anymore.


This exhaustion threatens to drag the patient into depression and even suicide. “Some depressed people, after being informed, have understood the origin of their depression. They suffered from Willis-Ekbom without knowing it.”

In addition to the sometimes dramatic consequences of this daily fatigue, there are also all these small inconveniences, such as the need to have a separate room.

Sometimes I have to bring myself to do it because I’ve become much more sensitive to my husband’s body heat at night, probably due to illness.

A little-known syndrome

Nonetheless, widespread syndrome Restless legs remain not very well known. “There are still unbelieving doctors who doubt the disease or consider it not very disabling,” explains Robert Gaillard, France Ekbom SJSR correspondent for Ille-et-Vilaine.

Sometimes it is only unknown to certain practitioners who are not trained in its use. A diagnosis can only be made by questioning the patient.

The origin of the disease is not identified, “although the role of dopamine and iron appears fundamental.”

“There are ways to relieve and treat it,” continues Robert Gaillard, who is committed to raising awareness of the disease and its consequences within the department.

Since last January, restless legs syndrome has been part of the “new catalog” of diseases recognized by the WHO. Significant progress. “Protocols are drawn up by the Raymond Poincarré Hospital in Paris. All of this gives hope,” Violaine continues.

“We really need to find solutions because it’s a disease that can quickly become very disabling and cause great suffering. »

Contact France Ekbom-SDJSR – Ille et Vilaine: Robert Gaillard 02 99 55 82 75 06 67 81 20 07 [email protected]

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