What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Ever found yourself with a restless leg even while you are at rest? If you do then this article can give you light on what a restless leg syndrome is. Restless leg syndrome or RLS is a disorder of the nervous system that affects the legs that causes an urge for it to move. It usually interferes with sleep which is why it is also considered as a sleep disorder.

Signs and symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms for restless leg are described as uncomfortable sensations felt in the legs. This is also accompanied with an irresistible urge to move the legs in order to relieve the sensations. There are also itchy, pin-like needles or crawling sensations felt on the legs which worsen when the leg is at rest.

The severity of RLS may be ranged from mild to intolerable. They also come and go at times but generally worsen at night time when the person is trying to sleep. Because of this, most patients with RLS receive little sleep.

About 10% of people have restless leg syndrome. It affects both men and women but mostly seen in the latter. This condition begins at an early age and even in young children. Most of the women affected by this condition are those in their 50s. Although this condition can be misdiagnosed at times, it can be treated successfully once it is identified right away.

Causes of RLS

Most people who suffer from this condition do not know that they have RLS. It is also believed that the genes play a big role in developing restless leg syndrome. It could also be due to medical conditions like iron deficiency, Parkinson’s or diabetes. People with kidney failure and peripheral neuropathy can also lead to RSL.

Some RLS develop as a side effect of medications. Drugs for nausea, antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants and even ones for colds and allergy medications can lead to RLS. Pregnancy can also cause restless leg syndrome especially during the last trimester. However the RLS in pregnant women goes away once the baby has been delivered. Other factors that can cause this condition may be due to sleep deprivation, alcohol use and the likes. It is important to eliminate alcohol and getting enough sleep to relieve the symptoms of this condition.


Relief of RLS is the main goal for treating this condition. This can be treated by lifestyle changes starting with regular exercise, creating regular sleeping hours and eliminating caffeine and alcohol intake. Leg massages may also be helpful. Hot baths, heating pads or ice packs applied to the legs may also work. There are also medications used for RLS but it will only work for a temporary time. Anticonvulsants, or antiseizure drugs, such as Tegretol, Lyrica, Neurontin, and Horizant can help while narcotic drugs may help relieve those who are in severe pain. Doctors may also prescribe sedatives to relax the legs or nerves surrounding the muscles.

In case you suspect that you have RLS, make sure to consult your physician right away. Doing so will give you proper diagnosis, the right treatment and lifestyle changes that needs to be done accordingly.


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