What is restless legs syndrome?

This question was asked in Austin, Texas on 05/01/2012.
I have to move my legs at night. Do I have the sleep disorder called restless legs syndrome?

Doctors Answers (5)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 5/4/2012 1

Restless Leg Syndrome is characterized by parasthesias (abnormal sensations) and dysesthesias (uncomfortable sensations) in the limbs that compel the person to move to relieve the sensations and that are exacerbated by rest. Symptoms are worse at night or in the evening and can disturb sleep. 10% of adults experience RLS symptoms often or very often. The cause is linked to abnormal iron transport in the CNS (central nervous system) related to neurons responsible for dopamine synthesis. RLS can also be seen in pregnancy, in kidney failure patient and worsnened by certain drugs such as caffeine, antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Gary K. Zammit, Ph.D.
Answered on: 5/2/2012 1

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by pain, discomfort, or unusual sensation in the lower limbs that can interfere with sleep. People with RLS often feel the irresistible urge to move their legs, and they often find that moving their legs or engaging in activity temporarily relieves the discomfort. If you think you might have RLS speak to your doctor, or get a referral to a board certified sleep specialist. There are safe and effective treatments.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 5/1/2012 4

Restless leg syndrome is a condition characterized by an uncomfortable sensation in legs that is worse in the evenings and improves with movement. It is not only a genetic condition, but sometimes also in people who are deficient in iron, such as pregnant women, hemodialysis patient, or anemic. Certain medications and conditions such as stress, anxiety, thyroid disorders, back injury, neuropathy, can also exacerbate symptoms of RLS. Caffeine frequently exacerbates symptoms of RLS. RLS when it continues during sleep is diagnosed as periodic limb movement disorder. Workup involves blood work and appropriate managment with medicines. Sometimes dopamine based medicine such as Requip or Mirapex are used.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 5/1/2012 4

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) may be related to conditions such as anemia (Iron deficiency) and neuropathy (damaged nerves) which occurs while awake. Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep is a somewhat similar condition that occurs during sleep. An evaluation with one of our sleep specialists would be the first step in determining whether or not you may have this condition.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 5/1/2012 3

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a condition which usually occurs at rest, usually worse in the evening after the sun goes down and is associated with an urge to move the legs to relieve sensory symptoms. These sensory symptoms are described in many ways such as tingling, burning, aching, tightness, etc. but movement helps. Once you fall asleep, you lose the voluntary control of these movements but the legs, especially at the ankles, often continue to move in a periodic fashion (every few seconds). The name changes from RLS to Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and may be associated with arousals of the brain waves or may be bothersome to a bed partner. The leg movements are known to produce daytime sleepiness and/or insomnia. Plus, people who suffer from these leg movements have a known two fold increase risk for cardiovascular events including high blood pressure.