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Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome: Introduction

Restless legs syndrome is a common condition that affects the nervous system resulting in unusual and uncomfortable sensations in the legs and sometimes in the arms. This generally occurs when a person is at rest, sitting or lying down and results in uncontrollable desire to move. As many as 12 million or more Americans may have restless legs syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown in most cases. It is believed that it might be related to an imbalance of the chemical dopamine in the brain.

It is known that some people with certain conditions may also have restless legs syndrome. These include diseases that can damage the nerves, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and peripheral neuropathy. Other conditions include iron deficiency, anemia, and pregnancy. Some people who take some types of medications may also experience restless legs syndrome. These medications include some anti-nausea drugs, anti-seizure drugs, and antipsychotic medications.

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include uncomfortable sensations in the legs and possibly the arms and a sudden uncontrollable need to move to relieve symptoms. Left untreated, restless legs syndrome can lead to serious sleep disturbances. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Making a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms and medications, and completing a physical examination. There is no diagnostic test that is specific for restless legs syndrome, and the condition is generally diagnosed by a careful evaluation of the patient's history and physical examination.

Blood tests and other tests are done to check for other conditions that can accompany restless legs syndrome, such as diabetes and anemia. There are also special tests that can be done on nerves to measure their electrical activity and on muscles to measure their activity.

Because there is no single test for restless legs syndrome, a diagnosis can be difficult to make. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of restless legs syndrome.

There is no cure for restless legs syndrome, but it can be treated successfully in many people to minimize symptoms, help them to live more comfortable lives, and to sleep better. Treatment includes treating any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, iron deficiency, or Parkinson's disease, and lifestyle changes, preventive measures, and possibly the use of some medications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of restless legs syndrome. ...more »

Restless Legs Syndrome: Restless legs syndrome is a sensori-motor (movement) disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs, which are worse ... more about Restless Legs Syndrome.

Restless Legs Syndrome: A neurological disorder where legs develop and crawling, aching skin sensation which is relived by moving the legs. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Restless Legs Syndrome is available below.

Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can vary between individuals in character and intensity. Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can occur at any age, but is more common in older adults and the elderly.

Classic symptoms include sudden uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable need to move to relieve symptoms. These sensations may be described as pulling, ...more symptoms »

Restless Legs Syndrome: Treatments

There is no cure for restless legs syndrome, but it can be managed in many people so that they can lead normal, productive lives and sleep well at night. A well integrated individualized treatment plan that includes a combination of therapies, such as preventive measures and medications, can best ensure that symptoms are successfully relieved or minimized.

...more treatments »

Restless Legs Syndrome: Misdiagnosis

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can be easily overlooked by people who have a mild case, resulting in a delayed or missed diagnosis. Symptoms tend to progress and worsen as a person gets older, so an early diagnosis can be helpful in helping a person to learn to prevent and minimize symptoms before they interferes significantly with sleep and their life.

If a person ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Restless Legs Syndrome:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome: Related Patient Stories

Rare Types of Restless Legs Syndrome:

Rare types of Restless Legs Syndrome include:

Diagnostic Tests for Restless Legs Syndrome

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Restless Legs Syndrome: Complications

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Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

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Disease Topics Related To Restless Legs Syndrome

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Restless Legs Syndrome:

Restless Legs Syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Restless Legs Syndrome

RLS sleep disorder causing night-time leg sensations often misdiagnosed: A common but relatively unknown sleep-related disorder called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is often misdiagnosed. The typical symptoms are night-time tingling, more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms more »

Restless Legs Syndrome: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Restless Legs Syndrome

Medical research articles related to Restless Legs Syndrome include:

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Restless Legs Syndrome: Animations

Prognosis for Restless Legs Syndrome

Prognosis for Restless Legs Syndrome: benign condition; spontaneous remission in some cases, treatment relieves symptoms in some and delivery can alleviate the condition in pregnant women

Research about Restless Legs Syndrome

Visit our research pages for current research about Restless Legs Syndrome treatments.

Clinical Trials for Restless Legs Syndrome

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Restless Legs Syndrome include:

Statistics for Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome: Broader Related Topics

Restless Legs Syndrome Message Boards

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Article Excerpts about Restless Legs Syndrome

NINDS Restless Legs Syndrome Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)

Restless legs syndrome is a sensori-motor (movement) disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs, which are worse during periods of inactivity or rest or while sitting or lying down. There is often a positive family history of the disorder. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Restless Legs Syndrome Information Page: NINDS)

Restless Legs Syndrome: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder in which a person experiences unpleasant sensations in the legs described as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling, or painful. These sensations usually occur in the calf area but may be felt anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. One or both legs may be affected; for some people, the sensations are also felt in the arms. These sensations occur when the person with RLS lies down or sits for prolonged periods of time, such as at a desk, riding in a car, or watching a movie. People with RLS describe an irresistible urge to move the legs when the sensations occur. Usually, moving the legs, walking, rubbing or massaging the legs, or doing knee bends can bring relief, at least briefly. (Source: excerpt from Restless Legs Syndrome: NWHIC)

Definitions of Restless Legs Syndrome:

A disorder characterized by aching or burning sensations in the lower and rarely the upper extremities that occur prior to sleep or may awaken the patient from sleep. Complying with an irresistible urge to move the affected limbs brings temporary relief. Sleep may become disrupted, resulting in excessive daytime hypersomnolence. This condition may be associated with UREMIA; DIABETES; and rheumatoid arthritis. Restless Legs Syndrome differs from NOCTURNAL MYOCLONUS SYNDROME in that in the latter condition the individual does not report adverse sensory stimuli and it is primarily a sleep-associated movement disorder. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p387; Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 1997 Apr 30;86(18):732-736) - (Source - Diseases Database)

Feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the legs after going to bed (sometimes causing insomnia); may be relieved temporarily by walking or moving the legs - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Restless Legs Syndrome is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Restless Legs Syndrome, or a subtype of Restless Legs Syndrome, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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