The main symptom of
restless legs syndrome (RLS) is an irresistible urge
to move because of uncomfortable and sometimes painful sensations
deep within a part of your body. The feelings usually affect the legs but can also affect the arms, torso, or a phantom limb (the part of a limb that has been amputated). Some people describe the sensations as aching, creeping,
crawling, or prickling. Symptoms usually begin about 15 minutes after you lie
down to sleep or to relax or when you have not moved for long periods, such as
when traveling in a car or airplane. Symptoms that occur frequently can result
in significant sleep loss, fatigue, and problems with daily
After they are asleep, most people with RLS also
have involuntary or jerking leg movements called
periodic limb movements. These movements can interrupt
your sleep, which adds to problems with fatigue. Periodic limb movements may
also occur during the day, although most people move around after their legs
begin to bother them. As a result, the periodic limb movements that people have
when they are awake may not be noticed except under unusual
Recommended Related to Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
The specific causes of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are not known. Disease in the blood vessels of the legs or in the nerves in the legs that control leg movement and sensation was once thought to cause RLS, but both of these suggestions have been rejected.
RLS may be related to abnormalities in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help regulate muscle movements, or to abnormalities in the part of the central nervous system that controls automatic movements. Research is still being done in these...
Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements
also often disturb the sleep of a bed partner. This can cause fatigue for both
people and can strain the relationship.
Symptoms may start during
infancy or any time during your life. At first, your symptoms may be mild and
occur only once in awhile. Typically, symptoms get worse with age. After age
50, many people with this condition have daily symptoms and suffer from
significant sleep loss. Severe
depression, and lack of social activity can become a
problem and cause a decline in quality of life.
syndrome may start or become worse during pregnancy, especially after week 20.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 02, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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