5 Common Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, affects 7-10% of adults in the United States. It’s classified as a sleep disorder and a movement disorder, but according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it’s more properly characterized as a neurological sensory disorder because the symptoms are produced in the brain.

Often, people with restless legs syndrome have difficulty in describing the sensations they experience as a result of the condition. Here are 5 common symptoms of RLS.

1. Periodic limb movement of sleep

More than 80% of those diagnosed with restless legs syndrome also have periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS). However, most people who have PLMS don’t experience restless legs syndrome. It’s possible to have either condition and not the other.

PLMS involves involuntary leg movements, such as twitching or jerking, while you’re asleep every 15 to 40 seconds. PLMS can last throughout the night.

2. Things are worse at night

All of the symptoms associated with restless legs syndrome are worse in the evening and at night. This is one reason it’s often described as being a sleep disorder. You may go throughout your day without feeling any of the symptoms of RLS, then when you try to rest, they recur.

3. Uncomfortable sensations

You may find it difficult to describe what you feel when you have restless legs syndrome; many people do. One thing you can probably say for sure is that the sensations are uncomfortable, and they aren’t on the skin, but feel as if they’re inside your leg.  

Various descriptions of the sensations include:

4. Irresistible urge to move

As you might imagine, if you feel like there’s something crawling inside your leg, you’ll want to move it. Besides the fact that the uncomfortable sensations that accompany RLS make you want to move, you may find that moving brings relief.

You may jiggle your legs, stretch, or get up and walk in order to relieve the discomfort.

5. Difficulty sleeping

Since the sensations and discomfort tend to occur with rest, and moving helps to relieve them, most people with restless legs syndrome have difficulty sleeping. Lack of good sleep can cause grogginess, weariness, and irritability.

Restless legs syndrome is not associated with other poor health outcomes, but poor sleep is associated with numerous chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Plus, being tired can affect your personality and impact your relationships.

RLS can negatively impact your overall quality of life, but there are treatments that can help. Sometimes lifestyle changes can help, and there are various pharmaceutical therapies that are helpful in treating the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

If you think you have restless legs syndrome, book an appointment with us at Revive Medical online or by phone. Our providers at both offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and San Diego, California, are happy to answer your questions and provide an evaluation.

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