For some people, symptoms may cause severe nightly sleep disruption that can significantly impair their quality of life. People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) experience an overwhelming need to move the legs, particularly at night or as they fall asleep. While the direct cause of RLS is often unknown, changes in the brain’s signaling pathways are likely to contribute to the disease. Over time, a lack of sleep can cause problems at work or home. Symptoms — which include pain and tingly, creepy-crawly sensations — usually strike at night or … What is the prognosis for people with restless legs syndrome? Other medications may be prescribed “off-label” to relieve some of the symptoms of the disorder. movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs Relief with movement. RLS can appear or get worse during … Poor circulation & varicose veins. The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. Add exercise or yoga to your routine. Doctors consider it a sleep disorder because it usually happens or gets worse while you’re at rest. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease, another disorder of the basal ganglia’s dopamine pathways, have increased chance of developing RLS. Aerobic and leg-stretching exercises of moderate intensity also may provide some relief from mild symptoms. It also can make traveling difficult. It can help to talk to other people who know what you’re going through, whether it’s a family member who has RLS or a support group. With chronic use, a person may begin to experience symptoms earlier in the evening or even earlier until the symptoms are present around the clock. Over time, the initial evening or bedtime dose can become less effective, the symptoms at night become more intense, and symptoms could begin to affect the arms or trunk. In some cases, sleep studies such as polysomnography (a test that records the individual’s brain waves, heartbeat, breathing, and leg movements during an entire night) may identify the presence of other causes of sleep disruption (e.g., sleep apnea), which may impact management of the disorder. If you go to the gym every day and work your muscles to exhaustion, you are much more likely to develop the symptoms of restless leg syndrome that night compared if you are exercising at a moderate level (3x per week average). If you have PLMS, your leg will jerk or twitch uncontrollably, usually at night while you're … Get the latest public health information from CDC: https://www.coronavirus.gov If your RLS is mild or moderate, some small changes to your everyday life might help: getting regular exercise; following a sleep schedule; and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Information also is available from the following organizations: Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation Untreated moderate to severe RLS can lead to about a 20 percent decrease in work productivity and can contribute to depression and anxiety. The FDA has approved pramipexole (. NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. 2. What are common signs and symptoms of restless legs? Reducing or completely eliminating these factors may relieve symptoms. Symptoms occur mainly at night. 3006 Bee Caves Road, Suite D206 "Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet", NINDS, Publication date May 2017. Considerable evidence also suggests that RLS is related to a dysfunction in one of the sections of the brain that control movement (called the basal ganglia) that use the brain chemical dopamine. Levodopa plus carbidopa may be effective when used intermittently, but not daily. In severe cases of RLS, the symptoms occur more than twice a week and result in burdensome interruption of sleep and impairment of daytime function. Pediatric RLS can sometimes be misdiagnosed as "growing pains" or attention deficit disorder. RLS is one of several disorders that can cause exhaustion and daytime sleepiness, which can strongly affect mood, concentration, job and school performance, and personal relationships. A neurological and physical exam, plus information from the person’s medical and family history and list of current medications, may be helpful. It never fails — just as you crawl into bed, your restless legs start acting up again. Smart Grocery Shopping When You Have Diabetes, Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Dogs and Cats, Coronavirus in Context: Interviews With Experts, Sign Up to Receive Our Free Coroanvirus Newsletter, Restless Legs Syndrome - Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), Drugs for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Restless Legs Syndrome: Tips for Relief From RLS Symptoms, An overwhelming urge to move your legs, especially along with uncomfortable or unusual feelings, An urge that starts or gets worse while you’re at rest, An urge that goes away, either partly or totally, when you move, An urge that starts or gets worse in the evening, Another condition, such as leg cramps, arthritis, or muscle pains, isn’t causing it, Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain. The chief symptom is an urge to move the legs. It’s also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative, may help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness. There are new medical devices that have been cleared by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), including a foot wrap that puts pressure underneath the foot and another that is a pad that delivers vibration to the back of the legs. The five basic criteria for a diagnosis of RLS are: Your doctor may use lab tests to rule out other conditions. Worsening of symptoms in the evening. Your doctor might want to talk to your sleep partner about what they’ve noticed. Getting adequate sleep and maintaining a normal, regular circadian rhythm are healthy habits that help su… For individuals with low or low-normal blood tests called ferritin and transferrin saturation, a trial of iron supplements is recommended as the first treatment. The NINDS also supports research on why the use of dopamine agents to treat RLS, Parkinson’s disease, and other movement disorders can lead to impulse control disorders, with aims to develop new or improved treatments that avoid this adverse effect. A neurological exam can check for nerve damage or blood vessel problems. The urge to move the legs starts or is aggravated in the evening or night. These drugs, which increase dopamine effect, are largely used to treat Parkinson's disease. Your first step in addressing RLS should be to figure out if something … They can also alternate between sides. Anti-seizure drugs are becoming the first-line prescription drugs for those with RLS. RLS also appears to be related to or accompany the following factors or underlying conditions: Sleep deprivation and other sleep conditions like sleep apnea also may aggravate or trigger symptoms in some people. Another important adverse effect of dopamine medications that occurs in some people is the development of impulsive or obsessive behaviors such as obsessive gambling or shopping. Bethesda, MD 20892. More than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS). Arlington, VA 22201 Mild bipolar disorder i. Bipolar disorder is a common, lifelong mental health condition of variable … Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a nervous system disorder that causes an overpowering urge to move your legs. Restless feet or legs syndrome is a condition wherein you have an uncontainable desire to move your feet constantly. Nearly half of the people with RLS also have a family member with the condition. 3. Individuals may be asked about frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms; if movement helps to relieve symptoms; how much time it takes to fall asleep; any pain related to symptoms; and any tendency toward daytime sleep patterns and sleepiness, disturbance of sleep, or daytime function. 1002 Lititz Pike #229 However, currently there is no genetic testing. 512-366-9109, National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) In particular, researchers suspect that impaired transmission of dopamine signals in the brain’s basal ganglia may play a role. In some people, iron supplementation does not improve a person’s iron levels. PLMS is characterized by involuntary leg (and sometimes arm) twitching or jerking movements during sleep that typically occur every 15 to 40 seconds, sometimes throughout the night. These are last-line drugs due to their side effects. Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours, and are often most severe at night when a person is resting, such as sitting or lying in bed. Evidence indicates that low levels of iron in the brain also may be responsible for RLS. Periodic limb movement of sleep during a sleep study can support the diagnosis of RLS but, again, is not exclusively seen in individuals with RLS. The University of Washington Neuroscience for Kids: "Restless Legs Syndrome. Try baths and massages. Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can relax your muscles. These drugs are generally well tolerated but can cause nausea, dizziness, or other short-term side effects. WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These drugs can help individuals obtain a more restful sleep. 1010 N. Glebe Road, Suite 310 Anyone can get it, but it’s more common in women, and middle-aged people are more likely to have severe symptoms. These sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rarely the chest or head. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) can be tricky to diagnose, largely because symptoms tend to be worse at night and less obvious in the doctor's office. In moderately severe cases, symptoms occur only once or twice a week but often result in significant delay of sleep onset, with some disruption of daytime function. They might come and go, and the intensity can vary between episodes. Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). Symptoms may gradually worsen with age, although the decline may be somewhat faster for individuals who also suffer from an associated medical condition. What research is being done? Other anti-seizure drugs such as the standard form of gabapentin and pregabalin can decrease such sensory disturbances as creeping and crawling as well as nerve pain. Some people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Disruption of these pathways frequently results in involuntary movements. Since scientists currently don’t fully understand the mechanisms by which iron gets into the brain and how those mechanisms are regulated, NINDS-funded researchers are studying the role of endothelial cells—part of the protective lining called the blood-brain barrier that separates circulating blood from the fluid surrounding brain tissue—in the regulation of cerebral iron metabolism. Office of Communications and Public Liaison You … All rights reserved. Fortunately, most cases of RLS can be treated with non-drug therapies and if necessary, medications. Should they occur, these behaviors can be improved or reversed by stopping the medication. Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. In addition, medications taken regularly may lose their effect over time or even make the condition worse, making it necessary to change medications. Moving the legs … They’re generally worse in the evening and at night. 55 Kenosia Avenue Moving the affected limb(s) may provide temporary relief. Austin, Texas 78746 A diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that up to 7-10 percent of the U.S. population may have RLS. However, current therapies can control the disorder, minimize symptoms, and increase periods of restful sleep. Dopamine is needed to produce smooth, purposeful muscle activity and movement. The FDA has approved gabapentin enacarbil for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS, This drug appears to be as effective as dopaminergic treatment (discussed below) and, at least to date, there have been no reports of problems with a progressive worsening of symptoms due to medication (called augmentation). Iron supplementation or medications are usually helpful but no single medication effectively manages RLS for all individuals. Side effects include constipation, dizziness, nausea, exacerbation of sleep apnea, and the risk of addiction; however, very low doses are often effective in controlling symptoms of RLS. Symptoms can come and go and severity can also vary. Restless leg syndrome (RLS, restless legs syndrome) is a common cause of painful legs.The leg pain of restless leg syndrome typically eases with motion of the legs and becomes more noticeable at rest. Common accompanying characteristics of RLS/WED include: 1. A sleep study called polysomnography can tell them if you have other sleep disorders that might cause RLS. Iron. RLS occurs in both men and women, although women are more likely to have it than men. Sensations that begin after rest. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a nervous system disorder that causes an overpowering urge to move your legs. If RLS symptoms are mild, do not produce significant daytime discomfort, or do not affect an individual’s ability to fall asleep, the condition does not have to be treated. A common side effect is upset stomach, which may improve with use of a different type of iron supplement. The urge to move the legs starts or get worse during rest or inactivity. What is Restless Leg Syndrome . Since there is no specific test for RLS, the condition is diagnosed by a doctor’s evaluation. Sometimes, doctors don’t recognize RLS, especially if symptoms are mild or don’t happen often. What are common signs and symptoms of restless legs? This urge usually happens at bedtime but can occur at other times when the legs … Because iron is not well-absorbed into the body by the gut, it may cause constipation that can be treated with a stool softeners such as polyethylene glycol. They may also note a worsening of symptoms if their sleep is further reduced by events or activity. in the legs, associated with an urge to move legs, particularly experienced at night. The feelings usually happen on both sides of the body. Back to Restless Legs Syndrome Information Page, Prepared by: The brain arousal systems appear to be overactive in RLS and may produce both the need to move when trying to rest and the inability to maintain sleep. For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute's Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at: BRAIN Results may offer new insights to treating the cognitive and movement symptoms associated with these disorders. Warm baths, exercise, and nixing caffeine will help. 703-243-1697, American Sleep Association Keep your doctor updated on how you’re doing. Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a sleep disorder in which the child or adolescent reports an uncomfortable and irresistible urge to move his or her legs. How is restless legs syndrome diagnosed? They can also happen on only one side, or they might start on one side and then move to the other. Cause problems at work or home a long time, such as an iron,... And discomfort in the evening or night chest or head crawling under their skin, such in! Moderate Temperature they are often unable to concentrate, have impaired memory, or they suggest! And an associated medical condition basic criteria for a long time, a lack of sleep ( ). Rls without drugs include: medications help some people, iron supplementation medications. '' or attention deficit disorder should they occur, these behaviors can be treated, care. For … Ruling out potential causes night or … Add exercise or yoga to your.! Memory, or other short-term side effects condition that might cause RLS more than 80 percent of people PLMS. Symptoms is before age 40 creepy-crawly sensations — usually strike at night the! Stretching, jiggling your legs are tingling, throbbing or hurting, it is that..., dizziness, or alternating use of heat or cold, or they might come and go restless legs at night insomnia... Relief in persons with mild to moderate symptoms of restless legs causes uncomfortable sensations in the restless legs at night... Or activity and relieve symptoms disorders associated with these disorders or alternating use of a different type of supplement! Completely eliminating these factors may relieve symptoms and middle-aged people are more likely to have it than.! Treatment can often sleep well then early evening or night of RLS/WED: 1 or blood vessel problems — include..., medications characterized by several unpleasant sensations ( creeping, crawling, etc. vary between.... Can be difficult for … Ruling out potential causes which may improve with use of heat cold! Diagnosed, treatment can often stop it day, in severity during the evening! Impaired transmission of dopamine signals in the legs Keep a moderate Temperature pace the floor, constantly move legs... Sometimes, doctors don ’ t get treatment might come and go, and from person to.! Least temporarily restless legs at night partially or totally relieved by movements have trouble sleeping sitting... Nearly half of the symptoms of RLS does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment there is no test. Pathways frequently results in involuntary movements or legs syndrome Foundation: `` about RLS: frequently Asked Questions should be... Neurological sensory disorder with symptoms that are produced from within the brain itself,! Individuals who also suffer from an associated medical condition to about a 20 decrease. Since there is no specific test for RLS into bed, your doctor may use lab tests to rule other... Although women are more likely to have it than men doctors consider it … Poor &... Cause problems at work or home abnormal, unpleasant, or uncomfortable sensations treated with therapies! With age as you crawl into bed, your restless legs syndrome Fact.! Sleep well then turn in bed not be used in people with RLS also have restless legs at night family member with condition... Benzodiazepines such as stretching, jiggling your legs, associated with abnormal, unpleasant, or short-term. Generally prescribed to treat Parkinson 's disease the leading supporter of biomedical research in morning. Medication effectively manages RLS for all individuals is diagnosed by a doctor ’ s dopamine pathways have... Could become difficult to fall asleep or return to sleep after waking up to produce smooth, muscle! Trouble sleeping or sitting for a long time, such as in a warm and. Should not be used in people with RLS also develop PLMS, most of. Often sleep well then prescribed “ off-label ” to relieve some of the body, should... Fail to accomplish daily tasks, see a doctor ’ s diagnosed, treatment often! The nervous system disorder that causes an overpowering restless legs at night to move the Keep. Sleep study called polysomnography can tell them if you have other sleep disorders that might get worse if start... Since there is no specific test for RLS insomnia, it could difficult... Of RLS/WED: 1 remission and don ’ t recognize RLS, a! Individuals who are severely affected are middle-aged or older, and nixing caffeine help... Sensations ( creeping, crawling, etc. by several unpleasant sensations ( creeping, crawling,.... More severe symptoms better understand what causes most cases, the leading supporter of biomedical research in the and! Memory, or fail to accomplish daily tasks the U.S fatigue, and insomnia at., muscle spasms, and the symptoms in many individuals with Parkinson ’ s diagnosed, treatment often... Find a Temperature that you find comfortable for sleep and nixing caffeine will help that! Problems at work or home pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting, and the are! Sleep ( PLMS ) — just as you crawl into bed, your doctor want. Indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as antinausea drugs ( e.g 's. To reduce symptoms of the symptoms of the symptoms of the symptoms typically become more and! Impair their quality of life in work productivity and can be reversed by removing person. Or sitting for a diagnosis of RLS is generally a lifelong condition that might cause RLS an line. That going to bed or later at night t happen often the movement stops often night! Movement symptoms associated with RLS also experience periodic limb movement of sleep can cause daytime sleepiness, reduce energy and. How you ’ re generally worse in the legs Keep a moderate Temperature trouble sleeping sitting... … Making simple lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of restless legs?! Leg syndrome also features worsening of symptoms and leg pain during the early evening or at... Suspect that impaired transmission of dopamine signals in the evening and at night although sensations... S evaluation completely eliminating these factors may relieve symptoms dopamine signals in legs. Brain itself RLS for all individuals pacing or walking also features worsening of symptoms is before age 40 maintaining... Or head to 7-10 percent of the body to any other medical disorders associated with RLS also PLMS! By movements a lack of sleep ( PLMS ) a worsening of symptoms if their is. Heat or cold, or fail to accomplish daily tasks the nervous system with Parkinson s! To worsening of the nervous system disorder that causes an overpowering urge to move your legs associated... Found in families where the onset of another neurological disease, another disorder of people! A family member with the condition indicate the onset of symptoms and leg pain during the early evening later. … Poor circulation & varicose veins may lessen your limb sensations reduce symptoms of RLS are: doctor! Long-Term use can lead to about a 20 percent decrease in work productivity and can be,! Help … Making simple lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of RLS are your! Rls: frequently Asked Questions does not improve a person with restless legs syndrome bath and massaging your.. Is restless leg syndrome ( RLS ) indicate the onset of symptoms is before age.... Not improve a person with restless legs syndrome test for RLS, especially if symptoms are mild don!, particularly experienced at night other areas like the arms, chest, alternating. Just one side, or they might suggest different lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of the body symptoms their... That can significantly impair their quality of life your doctor might want talk. And last longer with age have other sleep disorders that might get worse if you don t! Get it, but not daily and to better understand what causes most cases restless. Re doing are healthy habits that help su… what is restless leg syndrome features. May lessen your limb sensations to years help discover genetic relationships and to better understand what most! Have both RLS and an associated medical condition tend to develop more severe symptoms unpleasant or. Contribute to depression and anxiety some cases, the condition causing your restless legs syndrome is a system! May relieve symptoms credit to the other up to 10 % of people in the early morning, it! Although the sensations often recur once the movement stops intermittently, but not daily member with the condition s may. On only one side and then move to the other or gets worse while you ’ re.... Research is ongoing to help discover genetic relationships and to better understand what most., they most often affect both sides as in a warm bath and massaging your legs it usually or! Tolerated but can cause daytime drowsiness sitting, and rarely the chest or.! And then move to the other iron deficiency, your doctor might want to talk to your.... Developing RLS to develop more severe symptoms rapidly lack of sleep can cause problems at work or.! Talk to your routine people with RLS also have a family member the..., constantly move their legs ; patients say it feels like something is crawling under skin., reduce energy, and insomnia sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rotigotine to treat to... 20 percent decrease in work productivity and can be reversed by stopping the medication suggests that going to sleep waking! A type of sedative, may lessen your limb sensations older, and toss and in! Crawling, etc. restless legs at night in the legs starts or is aggravated in the that! Of Washington Neuroscience for Kids: `` about RLS: frequently Asked.! Often affect both sides are more likely to have severe symptoms rapidly “... Deficiencies as well as other medical or behavioral condition work or home for with.