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Health Condition

Restless Legs Syndrome

About This Condition

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a poorly understood condition that causes leg symptoms shortly before going to sleep—symptoms that are temporarily relieved by movement. Occasionally the condition may also involve the arms. It can cause sudden jerking motions of the legs and can lead to insomnia.

RLS is most common in middle-aged women, pregnant women, and people with severe kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve diseases (neuropathy). Restless legs have also been reported to occur in people with varicose veins and to be relieved when the varicose veins are treated.1

Symptoms

RLS is characterized by an almost irresistible urge to move the affected limbs because of unpleasant sensations beneath the skin, which are described as creeping, crawling, itching, aching, tingling, drawing, searing, pulling, or painful. These symptoms occur primarily in the calf area but may be felt anywhere in the legs or arms. The sensations are typically worse during rest or decreased activity, such as lying down or sitting for prolonged periods.

Other Therapies

Symptoms may also respond to correction of an underlying medical condition, such as iron-deficiency anemia, kidney disease, diabetic neuropathy, amyloidosis, chronic venous insufficiency, or malignancy.

References

1. Kanter AH. The effect of sclerotherapy on restless legs syndrome. Dermatol Surg 1995;21:328-32.

2. Botez MI. Neuropsychological correlates of folic acid deficiency: facts and hypotheses. in: Botez MI, Reynolds EH, eds. Folic Acid in Neurology, Psychiatry and Internal Medicine. New York: Raven Press, 1979.

3. Botez MI. Folate deficiency and neurological disorders in adults. Med Hypotheses 1976;2:135-40.

4. Sandyk R. L-tryptophan in neuropsychiatric disorders: a review. Int J Neurosci 1992;67:127-44 [review].

5. Sandyk R. L-Tryptophan in the treatment of restless legs syndrome. Am J Psychiatry 1986;143:554-5.

6. Hornyak M, Voderholzer U, Hohagen F, et al. Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. Sleep 1998;21:501-5.

7. Wali S, Shukr A, Boudal A, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplements on the severity of restless legs syndrome. Sleep Breath 2015;19:579–83.

8. Ayres S Jr, Mihan R. “Restless legs” syndrome: Response to vitamin E. J Appl Nutr 1973;25:8-15.

9. Ayres S, Mihan R. Leg cramps and “restless leg” syndrome responsive to vitamin E. Calif Med 1969;111:87-91.

10. Roberts HJ. Spontaneous leg cramps and “restless legs” due to diabetogenic hyperinsulinism: observations on 131 patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 1965;13:602-8.

11. Roberts HJ. Spontaneous leg cramps and “restless legs” due to diabetogenic (functional) hyperinsulinism. A basis for rational therapy. JFMA 1973;60:29-31.

12. Lutz EG. Restless legs, anxiety and caffeinism. J Clin Psychiatry 1978;39:693-8.

13. Mountifield JA. Restless leg syndrome relieved by cessation of cigarette smoking. Can Med Assoc J 1985;133:426.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

Drugs used to treat RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME. Select drug name to view medication information and pricing