Skip to content

Restless Legs Syndrome Center

Font Size

Restless Legs Syndrome - Symptoms

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 functioning.

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 circumstances.

Recommended Related to Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Sleep and Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that affects movement of the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder.

Read the Sleep and Restless Legs Syndrome article > >

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 insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and lack of social activity can become a problem and cause a decline in quality of life.

Restless legs syndrome may start or become worse during pregnancy, especially after week 20.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    woman asleep foot hanging out
    Is it nervous or sleep disorder?
    woman knitting
    Warm baths, exercise, and nixing caffeine will help.
     
    woman stretching leg
    We’ve got four ideas to try and four to avoid.
    patient and doctor
    If you think you may have RLS, see a doctor for an exam.
     
    woman asleep foot hanging out
    ARTICLE
    pharmacist with a client
    ARTICLE
     
    woman walking her dog
    ARTICLE
    patient and doctor
    ARTICLE