Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations. Symptoms of RLS are most severe in the evening and nighttime hours and can profoundly disrupt a patient’s sleep and daily life.
RLS can run in families and may have a genetic component. Studies have led to the discovery of the RLS gene that may account for approximately 50% of RLS cases. Certain medical and other environmental factors may lead to expression of the symptoms. Iron deficiency is felt to be a common medical condition involved with RLS.
- Urge to move the legs often associated with uncomfortable feeling in the legs (e.g. creepy, crawling, itching, tingling, pulling or aching) during periods of inactivity, including both sleep and wakefulness, and improvement with movement.
- Involuntary jerking of the limbs that intensifies in the evening or at night and is relieved by movement.
- People with RLS tend to have difficulty falling or staying asleep and suffer from chronic sleep loss, leaving them with the cognitive and tired feelings that occur with sleep loss.