Restless Legs Syndrome

Rest­less Legs Syn­drome (RLS) is a dis­or­der of the ner­vous sys­tem which affects the legs. The con­di­tion causes vic­tims to have uncom­fort­able sen­sa­tions in the legs: itch­ing, “pins and nee­dles”, or “creepy crawly” feel­ings. The feel­ings cause an uncon­trol­lable urge to move the legs in order to relieve the sensation.

RLS affects an esti­mated 10% of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, and affects both men and women, although it’s more preva­lent in women. It may begin at any age, includ­ing early child­hood. Because it typ­i­cally inter­feres with sleep, it’s con­sid­ered a sleep con­di­tion as well as a ner­vous sys­tem condition.

The uncom­fort­able sen­sa­tions caused by RLS are usu­ally when at rest, espe­cially when sit­ting or lying down. Symp­toms can come and go and vary in sever­ity. Typ­i­cally, symp­toms are more severe in the evening or at night, and can range from mild to intolerable.

In most cases, doc­tors are unsure what causes RLS, although some believe it may be genetic. Other fac­tors include chronic dis­ease, med­ica­tions, preg­nancy, alco­hol use, and sleep depri­va­tion. Although RLS is often mis­di­ag­nosed, it can be suc­cess­fully treated when diag­nosed cor­rectly. Some treat­ment options include lifestyle changes, adop­tion of reg­u­lar exer­cise and sleep pat­terns, and reduc­tion or elim­i­na­tion of alco­hol, caf­feine, or nico­tine use.