Restless legs syndrome (patient information)
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Restless legs syndrome
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What are the symptoms of Restless legs syndrome?
- Usually occur at night when you lie down, or sometimes during the day when you sit for long periods of time
- May be described as aching, bubbling, crawling, creeping, pulling, searing, or tingling
- May last for 1 hour or longer
- Sometimes also occur in the upper leg, feet, or arms
All of these symptoms often disturb sleep. Symptoms can make it difficult to sit during air or car travel, or through classes or meetings.
Note: Symptoms may be worse during stress or emotional upset.
What causes Restless legs syndrome?
RLS may occur more often in patients with:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Chronic kidney disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Iron deficiency
- Use of certain medications
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
- You have symptoms of restless legs syndrome
- Your sleep is disrupted
There is no specific examination for restless legs syndrome. The health care provider will not usually find any abnormalities, unless you also have peripheral nerve disease. Blood tests (CBC and serum ferritin) may be done to rule out iron deficiency anemia, which in rare cases can occur with restless legs syndrome.
Examination and testing may be used to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms.
- Warm baths
- Gentle stretching exercises
If your sleep is severely disrupted, your health care provider may prescribe medications such as Sinemet (an anti-Parkinson's medication), gabapentin and pregabalin, or tranquilizers such as clonazepam. However, these medications may cause daytime sleepiness.
Where to find medical care for Restless legs syndrome?
Prevention of Restless legs syndrome
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Restless legs syndrome is not dangerous or life-threatening, and it is not a sign of a serious disorder. However, it can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep.
Insomnia may occur.