Pediatric restless legs syndrome: Analysis of symptom descriptions and drawings

Daniel L. Picchietti, Robert A. Arbuckle, Linda Abetz, Jeffrey S. Durmer, Anna Ivanenko, Judith A. Owens, Jens Croenlein, Richard P. Allen, Arthur S. Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The specific aims of this study were to collect and analyze detailed symptom descriptions from patients with pediatric restless legs syndrome, ages 6 to 17 years, as well as assess symptom impact and the usefulness of drawings. Trained qualitative interviewers conducted face-to-face audio-recorded interviews of children and adolescents who met criteria for definite restless legs syndrome. Thirty-three patients in 3 age groups used 16 different categories of descriptors for restless legs sensations, with a mean of 3 or more categories used per patient in each age group. "Need to move/kick," "pain/hurts," "uncomfortable/cannot get comfortable," and "like bugs or ants/crawling" were the most common descriptors. Two-thirds reported daytime sensations, and nearly half had arm involvement. They described impact on sleep, cognitive function, and affect. Drawings provided useful diagnostic information. These detailed empirical data will be useful in clinical practice, as well as in the development of formal diagnostic tools and severity measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1376
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of child neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder
  • drawing
  • restless legs syndrome
  • sleep disorder
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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