Dr. William Ondo
Dr. William Ondo

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is just the third institution in the country designated as a Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED)/Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation Quality Care Center.

WED, also known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), affects 7 to 10 percent of the U.S. population. The designation recognizes UTHealth as a specialty center in treating WED/RLS patients with a range of complexities and co-morbidities.

Dr. William Ondo, professor of neurology and UT Physicians neurologist, is the director of the new center and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the WED Foundation.

“RLS has always been a disease bridging different traditional specialties, variably treated by primary care physicians, neurologists, sleep experts or psychiatrists,” said Ondo, a movement disorder neurologist who has researched the syndrome. “Having a comprehensive place to incorporate all the aspects of treatment is important, especially in the most severe cases.”

According to the WED Foundation, WED/RLS is a common and treatable neurologic disorder that results in an irresistible urge to move the legs or other parts of the body, often accompanied by unusual or unpleasant sensations that may be described as creeping, tugging, or pulling. Symptoms most often occur in the evening and can severely disrupt sleep and reduce quality of life.

“It’s brought on by physical and mental inactivity and may improve while a person is physically moving or with intense concentration. Unfortunately, those activities aren’t conducive to sleep afterward,” Ondo said. “Sleep deprivation results in worse symptoms, and it just spirals downward.”

Four drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of WED/RLS. Iron deficiency, pregnancy, kidney failure, prescription or over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and antihistamines can sometimes cause symptoms of the syndrome.

“Nobody with WED/RLS should have a reduced quality of life,” said WED Foundation Executive Director Georgianna Bell.  “This disease can be effectively managed over time, and we aim to work with clinicians to fulfill this expectation.”

The UT Physicians clinic is located in The University of Texas Professional Building. To make an appointment at  WED/RLS Quality Care Clinic, please call 832.325.7080.

The medical group practice of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (a part of UTHealth), UT Physicians offers the most advanced technologies with a personalized touch from its flagship location in the Texas Medical Center and at a growing number of clinics throughout the greater Houston area.

-Deborah Mann Lake, Office of Public Affairs, Media Relations