What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder where a person feels urges to move his or her legs in order to stop unpleasant or tingling sensations while sitting or lying down. The condition can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue during the day. The condition can also make traveling difficult.
The unpleasant sensations are normally felt in the feet, calves, thighs, and sometimes arms. The feelings that cause RLS sufferers to move their legs are often described as:
- simply uncomfortable
Often people have trouble describing the feelings, only that moving the affected area temporarily alleviates the sensation.
Although it can come at any age, RLS is more common in older adults, as well as people who have the follwing conditions:
- Parkinson's disease
- iron deficiency
- chronic kidney disease
- peripheral neuropathy
Pregnant women also tend to report restless leg syndrome. It can also be a side effect of certain medications.
A diagnosis of restless leg syndrome normally comes after a patient successfully describes his or her feelings to a doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist. Often the underlying condition—should there be one—is treated to reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. If there are no other causes, a doctor may prescribe medications such as opioids, muscle relaxants, or medication normally used for Parkinson's disease or epilepsy.
Lifestyle changes can also help people with restless leg syndrome:
- avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- taking baths
- getting a massage
- having a comfortable sleep environment
- getting regular exercise
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers