legsRestless legs syndrome can go unrecognized for a long time. Being aware of restless legs syndrome symptoms is the first step in effectively treating the condition.

The compelling desire to move is characteristic of restless legs syndrome (RLS). It is a disorder of part of the nervous system. As it usually interferes with sleep, it’s also considered to be a sleep disorder. The condition affects between 8% and 10% of the US population. People of all ages, including children, suffer from the condition. However, it’s more common in women and people who are middle-aged or older.

RLS can be primary or secondary. Primary (idiopathic) RLS has no known underlying cause. It is far more common than secondary RLS. Secondary RLS is caused by an underlying medical condition.

RLS can go unrecognized and un-diagnosed for years. Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms.


7 Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome


  1. An irresistible urge to move your legs (sometimes also your arms and body). You also feel unpleasant sensations in your legs. The sensations can feel like:
  • Crawling
  • Aching
  • Itching
  • Creeping
  • Pulling
  • Throbbing


  1. Symptoms begin or get worse when you are resting or inactive; for example, when you are lying down or sitting for a long time on a train, airplane or in a  movie theater.
  1. Symptoms get better or go away when you move, such as stretching, or jiggling your legs, pacing, or walking. However, they come back when you sit or lie down again.
  1. Symptoms are worse in the evening or night, or only occur in the evening or night-time hours.
  1. Night-time leg twitching, or jerking of the arms or legs. RLS is associated with a condition called periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS.) This causes your legs to twitch and kick. Up to 80% of people with restless legs syndrome also have periodic limb movements during sleep. The symptoms may wake you several times and severely disrupt your sleep. Your partner may also be disturbed by your restlessness.
  2. Symptoms range from mild to intolerable. Some people experience symptoms occasionally, while others have them every day.
  1. Just over half of people with restless legs syndrome also have episodes of lowerback pain.


Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • Heredity – In 25% to 75% of cases, primary RLS runs in families. Hereditary RLS tends to start earlier in life and get worse more slowly than other cases.
  • Up to 40% of pregnant women experience RLS symptoms. It is particularly common during the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Lack of sleep

If you recognize that you have restless legs syndrome symptoms, you should now begin treating this debilitating condition to regain your quality of life.

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