Restless Leg Syndrome

Introduction to Restless Leg Syndrome

Individuals with restless leg syndrome feel a constant urge to move their legs to relieve uncomfortable crawling, tingling or aching sensations. These sensations can last for an hour or longer and usually occur at night while lying down, leading to sleep loss.

Overview of Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition characterized by an irresistible urge to move your body to stop uncomfortable sensations. RLS most commonly affects the legs, but can also affect the arms or torso. Moving the affected body part lessens the discomfort and provides temporary relief. It is estimated that 5% of the general population and as many as 10% of those over 65 years old suffer from RLS. RLS can be caused by genetic factors, or an associated medical condition. Certain medical treatments and medications can increase the risk of development or aggravate existing RLS.

Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome

Common symptoms of RLS include:
  • An urge to move the limbs with or without sensations

  • Improvement with activity

  • Worsening at rest

  • Worsening in the evening or night

The sensations felt by RLS patients are unusual and unlike other common sensations. The sensation and the urge to move can occur in any body part; but most commonly occurs in the legs. RLS symptoms start, or significantly increase during times of rest. Lying down or sitting in a chair may become very uncomfortable, often making relaxation impossible. Movement only provides temporary partial relief.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome cannot be cured outright, but there are many effective treatments. Sleep doctors specialize in the treatment of RLS and keep up to date with the latest advances in treatments. Make sure you speak with a specialist for advice if you believe you have restless legs syndrome.

The treatment for those diagnosed with RLS, may be prescribed a dopamine or opiate based drug, or sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. Anticonvulsants may be prescribed to patients with pre-existing nerve damage.