A person with restless legs syndrome experiences twitchiness and discomfort in the legs, usually after going to bed. As this can lead to insomnia, it is considered a sleep disorder.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) may happen because of mental or physical problems, or it may be an adverse effect of some medications. It is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease.
Restless legs syndrome may be classed as mild or severe, depending on the frequency and severity of the symptoms, how well the symptoms can be relieved by moving around, and how much disturbance they cause.
It affects up to 1 in 10 people at some time during their life.
The vast majority of cases of RLS resolve on their own over time or once simple lifestyle changes have been made.
Fast facts on restless legs syndrome:
RLS can is classed as either primary or secondary.
Many people can treat the issues at home.
The condition is often caused by a combination of mental and physical factors.
Women are more likely to be affected with RLS during pregnancy.
RLS is classified as a sleep disorder.
Symptoms can occur when a person is awake in a confined space, such as an airplane seat or at the cinema.
As RLS leads to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, the person may be tired during the day. This can have an impact on learning, work, concentration, and routine tasks and activities.
Lack of sleep can eventually lead to mood swings, irritability, depression, an undermined immune system, and other physical and health problems.
What does it feel like?
A person with RLS has a strange and unpleasant sensation in the legs, and sometimes the arms, and a strong urge to move them. People have described these feelings as:
similar to electric shocks
The only way to relieve the discomfort is by moving the legs. The sensations tend to occur when the individual is resting or inactive, and not only during the night. Symptoms often worsen in the evening and at night, and may be relieved for a short while in the morning.
How long will restless legs syndrome last?
Symptoms of primary or idiopathic RLS typically worsen over time, but, for some people, weeks or months may pass without any symptoms. If the RLS stems from a condition, illness, pregnancy, or medication, it may go away as soon as the trigger has gone.
Warm baths are a simple home remedy that can help relieve symptoms.
If a person cannot manage symptoms of RLS alone, they may be prescribed medications.