Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you’re sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.
Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age. It can disrupt sleep, which interferes with daily activities. Simple self-care steps and lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms. Medications also help many people with this condition. Clinical trials, like those at CNS Healthcare, can help you explore new options. Interested in trying a new treatment at no cost? Find out more about enrolling clinical trials available by selecting one of the below locations near you. Use the form on the page to schedule a free, in-office consultation to find out if a Restless Leg Syndrome clinical trial is right for you.
Often, there’s no known cause for this condition. Researchers suspect the condition may be caused by an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement. Sometimes it runs in families, especially if the condition starts before age 40. Researchers have identified sites on the chromosomes where genes for RLS may be present. Pregnancy or hormonal changes may temporarily worsen signs and symptoms. Some women develop this condition for the first time during pregnancy, especially during their last trimester. However, symptoms usually disappear after delivery. RLS can develop at any age, even during childhood. The disorder is more common with increasing age and more common in women than in men. Some people with RLS never seek medical attention because they worry they won’t be taken seriously. However, RLS can interfere with your sleep and cause daytime drowsiness and affect your quality of life. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be suffering from this condition.
The chief symptom is an urge to move the legs. Common accompanying characteristics of RLS include:
• Sensations that begin after rest. The sensation typically begins after you’ve been lying down or sitting for an extended time, such as in a car, airplane or movie theater.
• Relief with movement. The sensation lessens with movement, such as stretching, jiggling your legs, pacing or walking.
• Worsening of symptoms in the evening. Symptoms occur mainly at night.
• Nighttime leg twitching. RLS may be associated with another, more common condition called periodic limb movement of sleep, which causes your legs to twitch and kick, possibly throughout the night, while you sleep.
People typically describe symptoms as abnormal, unpleasant sensations in their legs or feet. They usually happen on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the sensations affect the arms.
The sensations, which generally occur within the limb rather than on the skin, are described as:
Sometimes the sensations are difficult to explain. People with RLS usually don’t describe the condition as a muscle cramp or numbness. They do, however, consistently describe the desire to move their legs. It’s common for symptoms to fluctuate in severity. Sometimes, symptoms disappear for periods of time, then come back.