Richard G. Petty, MD

Recognizing Restless Legs

I’ve recently written a couple of articles about restless legs syndrome (RLS), following which I got this question:

"Dear Dr. Petty, I’ve thought that I’ve got RLS, and so did my doctor, but I’ve just heard about something called akathisia, and another doctor has told me that I might have that instead. Is there any way to tell them apart? The doctor seemed to think that they were the same thing. Have you heard of akathisia, and are there any tips for working out what I’ve really got?"

Yes, I do indeed know what akathisia is, and this is a good question. I’ve seen  many experts who have mixed up the two conditions. Both may be present in the same person, and there may be some small degree of overlap, but an experienced neurologist should be able to tell them apart without too much trouble.

Akathisia is most commonly seen in people taking certain types of medication that act on the brain. However something indistinguishable from akathisia was described three hundred years before we had any of these medicines. So medications are most certainly not the only cause.

I’d like to direct you to a new article by our friends over at Psychiatric Resource Forum, where you will find an article that goes through the clinical features and causes of akathisia and the nine classical features that distinguish akathisia from RLS.

Let me know if that does not give you the answer that you need, and I’ll happily write a more detailed account of how to distinguish the two.

Good luck, and let me know if I can help you further.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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