What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

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Restless legs syndrome (RLS), is a disruptive neurologic disorder that seriously affects 2-3% of the adult population. RLS results in an irresistible urge to move the legs which is often accompanied by unusual or unpleasant sensations in the legs that may be described as creeping, tugging, or pulling. Because RLS most often occurs in the evening, it can severely disrupt sleep and reduce quality of life.

The diagnosis of restless legs is based on the individual’s history. The criteria necessary for the diagnosis of restless legs include:

  1. A compelling urge to move the legs, usually associated with disagreeable leg sensations.
  2. Motor restlessness can be seen, such as tossing and turning in bed, pacing the floor and rubbing the legs.
  3. Symptoms worsen or present exclusively at rest and are relieved by activity.
  4. Symptoms are worse in the evening and at night.

If you think you have symptoms of restless legs, you should see your Sleep physician, who will take a history and perform a physical exam. Routine blood work, including a ferritin level, should be obtained.


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