What are the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 28, 2011

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) causes symptoms or unpleasant sensations in the legs while the person is sitting, lying down or trying to sleep. People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) may feel these symptoms or sensations in the calves, thighs, feet or arms:

  • Aching or burning.
  • Creepy crawly feelings.
  • Pulling.
  • Itching or tingling.
  • Cramping.
  • Painful.
  • Electric.
  • Tense.
  • Discomfort.
  • Gnawing.

Some people are not able to describe the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. People with RLS have a strong and often irresistible compulsion to move or handle their legs.

Commonly reported patterns

  • Starts during inactivity: The symptoms begin or worsen when you're sitting or lying down for an extended period of time (such as in a car, airplane, movie theatre) or trying to sleep.
  • Relief by movement: The symptoms subside partially or temporarily with activity, such as walking or stretching and they usually last for the time you keep moving. The compelling desire to move gives the condition its name; restless legs syndrome.
  • Symptoms worsen in the evening: Symptoms are usually more severe in the evening and night, as compared to morning.
  • Night time leg twitching: Some people with RLS may have another condition called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). In this condition the person involuntarily flexes and extends his legs while sleeping (that is has twitching or kicking movements) and is not aware of it. This can occur hundreds of time during the night. In people with severe RLS, these involuntary kicking movements may also happen even when the person is awake.

RLS symptoms can be mild to intolerable and the symptoms tend to worsen as the person gets older. Some people may experience periods of remissions (that is periods in which symptoms improve or completely stop for days, weeks, or months) or fluctuation in the severity of symptoms. But in most cases the symptoms usually eventually reappear. It is generally a lifelong condition and at present there is no cure for it.



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