Signs & Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

What Causes RLS?

Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS is really exactly as it sounds, you can’t keep your legs still. But don’t take this to mean that RLS is easily diagnosed or that it’s simplistic, RLS is a very real, very rampant, and potentially lifestyle altering sleep disorder with varying degrees of severity, and a wide range of symptoms.

Leg Movements


People with RLS may report feeling creepy-crawly sensations in their legs, twitching, uncontrollable urge to move, and even pain. This is the most common symptom of this disorder. Problem is that the restlessness in the legs can vary greatly from person to person, from mild to severe.

  • Mild leg discomfort, tingling, creepy crawly symptoms may be relieved with motion. If you’re sitting or lying down you might relieve the symptoms with getting up and walking around or stretching.
  • Severe leg discomfort and even pain may be difficult to relieve, especially at night. There is one prescription RLS drug on the market—ropinerole, aka Requip—and some doctors may prescribe other sleep aids, but they are not cures and don’t work for everyone.

Other Symptoms of RLS

RLS is a sleep disorder—it’s not just a leg problem. As such the accompanying symptoms compound the general discomfort:

  • Frequent interruptions in sleep caused by uncontrollable leg movement while sleeping
  • Associated symptoms related to periodic limb movement disorder—involuntary movement of arms and legs during sleep
  • Frequent waking during the night due to RLS symptoms
  • Painful leg sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Irritability and mood swings

Causes of RLS

RLS continues to be heavily researched. It is believed to affect millions of Americans and the numbers are most likely skewed primarily for the fact that many suffer without seeking help and consider it a lifestyle nuisance. Others may suffer mild symptoms not worth the energy or expense related to medical intervention.

The concrete causes of RLS are not well known. But some possible causes include:

  • Heredity – a large number of reported RLS sufferers can name family members with the disorder
  • Dietary vitamin deficiency may increase symptoms. Iron and magnesium are primary indicators
  • Can increase with age, but symptoms may occur at any age even in mild forms
  • Medical conditions can also worsen symptoms but are not necessarily a root cause
  • Pregnancy can bring on temporary RLS.

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