Facts about Restless Legs Syndrome during Pregnancy

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 29, 2013

Restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in your legs. It is sometimes described as 'fidgety' legs, a 'crawling' sensation under the skin or sometimes just general discomfort.

Female feet and handsWomen may experience distressing symptoms of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. The symptoms of the syndrome usually disappear  within a month after delivery. It could be tricky to diagnose the symptoms of restless leg syndrome as it tends to be worse at night and less obvious during the daytime.


[Read: Things to Know about Pregnancy]


Those with restless legs syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs besides an irresistible urge to move the legs to relieve the sensations. It can make expecting mothers uncomfortable, especially when they lie or sit.

Here are some facts about restless legs syndrome during pregnancy.

  • It is characterised by sensations such as itching, tingling, pulling, crawling or cramping. These sensations are so strong that they cause an irresistible urge to get up and walk around. People with involuntary leg movements may have another condition called periodic limb movement disorder.
  • A 2010 study found that those who suffer from RLS during one pregnancy are at higher risk of having the syndrome again during future pregnancies or of developing a chronic form of RLS later on.
  • Studies in the past have linked the incidence of RLS to high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction, possibly due to sleep interruptions or factors involving dopamine in the brain.


[Read: 7 Ways to Ward Off Pregnancy Blues]


  • Medications aren't the only treatment for restless legs. Restoring iron, folate and magnesium levels may also relieve condition’s symptoms.
  • Restless leg syndrome can strike people of all ages, but it is more common in those who are above 65 years. Symptoms typically get worse as you get older and there will be significant sleep interruptions after the age of 50.
  • Regular physical exercises such as prenatal yoga helps keep restless legs syndrome under control. Gentle stretching and massage may also help expectant mothers relieve their symptoms.
  • Women who don’t have RLS prior to the pregnancy have a hard time understanding what it feels like. They may have sleeping difficulties and other symptoms.
  • There are four ways to diagnose RLS – an urge to move their legs, the urge of limb movement during periods of rest or inactivity, the sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement and the urge to limb movements which get worse in the evening or at night.
  • A study at the Emory University, in Atlanta, suggested that RLS runs in families. The researchers discovered a gene variant that doubled a person's risk of developing RLS.
  • It is observed that restless leg syndrome follows a circadian rhythm, getting worse at night as the body and brain begin to rest.
  • Most of the medications of RLS are also used for Parkinson's disease, but the two disorders are not related.



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