Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which your legs feel extremely uncomfortable while you’re sitting or lying down. It makes you feel like getting up and moving around. When you do so, the unpleasant feeling of restless legs syndrome temporarily goes away. Restless legs syndrome affects both sexes, can begin at any age and may worsen as you get older. Restless legs syndrome can disrupt sleep — leading to daytime drowsiness — and make traveling difficult. A number of simple self-care steps and lifestyle changes may help you. Medications also help many people with restless legs syndrome.
People typically describe restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms as unpleasant sensations in their calves, thighs, feet or arms, often expressed as:
Sometimes the sensations seem to defy description. People usually don’t describe the condition as a muscle cramp or numbness. Common characteristics of RLS signs and symptoms include:
* Starts during inactivity. The sensation typically begins while you’re lying down or sitting for an extended period of time, such as in a car, airplane or movie theater.
* Relief by movement. The sensation of RLS lessens if you get up and move. People combat the sensation of restless legs in a number of ways — by stretching, jiggling their legs, pacing the floor, exercising or walking. This compelling desire to move is what gives restless legs syndrome its name.
* Worsening of symptoms in the evening. Symptoms typically are less bothersome during the day and are felt primarily at night.
* Nighttime leg twitching. RLS may be associated with another condition called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS).
Once called myoclonus, PLMS causes you to involuntarily flex and extend your legs while sleeping — without being aware you’re doing it. Hundreds of these twitching or kicking movements may occur throughout the night. If you have severe RLS, these involuntary kicking movements may also occur while you’re awake. PLMS is common in older adults, even without RLS, and doesn’t always disrupt sleep. More than four out of five people with RLS also experience PLMS. Most people with RLS find it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep. Insomnia may lead to excessive daytime drowsiness, but RLS may prevent you from enjoying a daytime nap. Although RLS doesn’t lead to other serious conditions, symptoms can range from bothersome to incapacitating. In fact, it’s common for symptoms to fluctuate in severity, and occasionally symptoms disappear for periods of time.
RLS can develop at any age, even during childhood. Many adults who have RLS can recall being told as a child that they had growing pains or can remember parents rubbing their legs to help them fall asleep. The disorder is more common with increasing age.
Information Provided Courtesy of The Mayo Clinic © http://www.mayoclinic.com