Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition where a person uncontrollably moves their legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. The main symptoms usually worsen during the evening or at nighttime, which can affect sleep. It can impact those of any age and can drastically interfere with everyday life activities. Check out this guide on what to know when being diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome.
The main symptom of RLS is an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, which is typically brought on by an uncomfortable sensation. These sensations occur most often after periods of rest such as lying down for sleep, long car rides, and sitting for an extended time. This symptom is typically alleviated by moving, whether it be stretching, walking, or simply moving your legs. The symptoms of RLS are known to worsen during the evening and at night, which can be especially disruptive to sleep.
While there are no proven causes, researchers agree that a likely cause of the condition is an imbalance of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for controlling muscle movements. RLS is thought to be hereditary and can run in families, which is more likely if the condition is onset before age 40. Many cases of RLS can be brought on temporarily, and existing cases can be worsened by pregnancy because of hormonal changes in later trimesters.
People with the below conditions are more likely to be diagnosed with RLS or have more severe RLS in their lifetimes.
- Kidney failure
- Iron deficiencies
- Spinal cord conditions or injuries
While sometimes the treatment requires remedying the underlying condition, such as iron deficiency, there are some ways to cope with the symptoms of RLS even if no underlying condition has been identified. RLS without underlying conditions is typically treated with recommended lifestyle changes, such as adopting a less sedentary lifestyle, the use of compression socks for RLS, and taking certain muscle relaxants and sleep medications to help with the loss of sleep in conjunction with RLS.