Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS or Nocturnal Myoclonus)

Restless leg syndrome is a very common sleep disorder in the United States. It is characterized by a perceived feeling of cramping or discomfort in the leg muscles that makes the affected person want to move his or her limbs, sometimes violently, in order to relieve the sensation. It affects mostly older patients and worsens when the person is feeling particularly stressed. Some bouts go away after a month or two tops. RLS can strike day or night, as opposed to a similar sleep disorder called periodic limb movement disorder, which makes a person’s legs feel jittery and make involuntary movements only while he or she is sleeping.

Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms

What causes restless leg syndrome is not clear, but certain indicators in a person’s medical history may reveal how likely he or she is to develop a form of RLS. Such factors include problems with weight, diabetes, kidney function, anemia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy and drug use (including use of strong prescription medications). It also may be genetic and can thereby be passed down through generations, though not much is known yet about the genetics of restless leg syndrome. If left untreated, RLS can greatly affect how well rested a person feels and lead to depression or anxiety later on.

Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no current cure for restless leg syndrome. Relief by way of stress reduction therapy or physical relaxation exercises may sooth a person’s discomfort, but it’s usually only temporary, and the restlessness will return. Research on the topic of restless leg syndrome is limited, as the condition is neither a health threat nor a danger. Medications for available medicines can be discussed with a sleep expert or doctor.