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Restless leg syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Nocturnal myoclonus; RLS; Akathisia


    RLS leads to sensations in the lower legs that make you uncomfortable unless you move your legs. These sensations:

    • Usually occur at night when you lie down, or sometimes during the day when you sit for long periods of time
    • May be described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing, tingling, bubbling, or crawling
    • May last for 1 hour or longer
    • Sometimes also occur in the upper leg, feet, or arms

    You will feel an irresistible urge to walk or move your legs, which almost always relieves the discomfort.

    Most patients have rhythmic leg movements during sleep hours, called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).

    All of these symptoms often disturb sleep. Symptoms can make it difficult to sit during air or car travel, or through classes or meetings.

    Note: Symptoms may be worse during stress or emotional upset.

    Signs and tests

    There is no specific examination for restless leg syndrome. The health care provider will not usually find any abnormalities, unless you also have peripheral nerve disease. Blood tests (CBC and serum ferritin) may be done to rule out iron deficiency anemia, which in rare cases can occur with restless leg syndrome.

    Examination and testing may be used to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms.