Having restless legs, to the point of not being able to sleep in peace… This is the “restless legs” syndrome, also called “Willis-Ekbom”. The very first observation of this disease was made by this English neurologist, Thomas Willis.
Legs that never sleep!
In 1672, he compared illness to a session of torture. The patient would have “jumps in the arms, in the legs, and contractions in the tendons, making sleep impossible”.
After him, other doctors note the strange signs of this syndrome. In the 17th century, François Boissier de Sauvage de Lacroix speaks of a “worry of the feet”, without knowing the cause.
Arms that are on the move
It is necessary to wait three centuries to have a more detailed description. Karl Axel Ekbom is a Swedish doctor, who in 1945 conducted a rigorous clinical study. It specifies the hereditary nature of the pathology and its importance in the population. It is also he who speaks for the first time of “restless legs”.
Recently, the scientific community has also changed its official name, because the arms can also be affected by this fidget syndrome. From now on, its little name returns to its origins, the “Willis-Ekbom disease”.
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