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Restless leg syndrome

  • Definition

    Restless leg syndrome is a disorder in which there is an urge or need to move the legs to stop unpleasant sensations.

    Alternative Names

    Nocturnal myoclonus; RLS; Akathisia

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Restless leg syndrome (RLS) occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults. Stress makes it worse. The cause is not known in most patients.

    RLS may occur more often in patients with:

    • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Iron deficiency
    • Use of certain medications

    A form of RLS may be passed down in families. This may be a factor when symptoms start at a younger age. The abnormal gene has not yet been identified.

    Restless leg syndrome can result in a decreased quality of sleep (insomnia). This lack of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, anxiety or depression, and confusion or slowed thought processes.