What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is an unpleasant sensation – sometimes described as creepy-crawly, aching, dull, uncomfortable, or even “indescribable”. The sensation commonly occurs in the legs but can affect other parts of the body like the arms or torso. These sensations are associated with an urge to move, occur mostly in the evening, and can interfere with the ability to fall asleep. Because symptoms commonly occur while sitting still (e.g. sitting in a movie theater or airplane) and in the evening (trying to rest before bed), RLS can severely reduce quality of life.
What are the Symptoms of RLS?
RLS is commonly diagnosed by asking a series of four questions (taken from RLS Foundation):
- Uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in your limbs (e.g. legs), causing a strong urge to move.
- Symptoms begin or become worse while resting or while inactive (e.g. sitting, lying down).
- Symptoms get better with movement (e.g. walking, stretching), as long as the activity continues.
- Symptoms are worse in the evening or nighty, or only occur in the evening or nighttime hours.
Am I at Risk for RLS?
Dopamine is a chemical that is made in many parts of your body. RLS may be related to issues in processing dopamine during the evening/night (please note: this is different from Parkinson’s disease!). RLS can be associated with numerous medical disorders. Because dopamine requires iron, RLS can be worse when “relative” anemia occurs – some examples include pregnancy, changing diets, and changes in menstrual patterns.
Do I have RLS?
RLS is a common sleep disorder, affecting at least 10-15% of the U.S. population, thus affecting the lives of millions of individuals. If you have any of the symptoms described above, talk to your doctor!
If you think you might have RLS, take our quick survey: Restless Leg Syndrome Survey