Symptoms and Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

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If you have restless legs syndrome you will notice a rather unpleasant feeling in your legs. This discomfort tends to increase when you lie down or it you’re sitting. You will also tend to find relief when you get up and start moving about. Unfortunately pain is often experienced at night when you are sleeping and the only way that you can deal with the problem is to waken up, get out of bed and start moving about. The reason restless leg syndrome is referred to as one type of sleep disorder is because the pain in your legs cause you to have an uncomfortable and disrupted sleep.  The pain doesn’t just occur in the legs however, you can also experience discomfort in your arms too. It can often be very difficult to describe the pain you experience however you will be able to deduce that it’s not the same feeling you get when you have muscle cramps. The best way to describe the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) would be tingling, burning sensation and prickling. You might even feel as if you’ve got creepy crawlies crawling underneath your skin. The symptoms are at their greatest at night and are caused because you’re not being active. You will also probably notice that your symptoms can subside for a length of time and then come back with different levels of intensity.

Another symptom often associated with the symptoms of RLS is what’s called Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS). You might have this condition and not even be aware of it because it happens when you are sleeping. However if you are a PLMS sufferer then you will find that you are unable to enjoy a really good deep sleep and it’s often the cause of a disrupted sleep for your sleeping partner. Restless legs syndrome is connected to the release of a certain chemical called dopamine which is responsible for the movement of your muscles. It is often an hereditary condition, actually 50% of patients find that it’s hereditary. If you are either stressed or pregnant then you will also find that the symptoms become aggravated. Other factors include a deficiency of iron along with diabetes and alcoholism as the latter two can damage the nerves in your hands and feet.

Unfortunately the diagnosis of restless legs syndrome isn’t always easy because the symptoms can be confused with other conditions such as nerves, stress and muscle cramps. Also many sufferers don’t bother to ask for any medical help. In the cases where RLS is thought to be the problem, your doctor will ask you various questions to make a diagnosis. The doctor will ask what you’re symptoms are along with the frequency in which the pain occurs. You will also be asked about what relieves your symptoms and what your sleeping patterns are. There are sleep clinics that have been set up to monitor you closely and therefore make the best diagnosis.  As mentioned earlier, moving about if often the best way to relieve your symptoms of restless leg syndrome. By walking and stretching along with other types of exercise you’ll be able to help a lot. Of course if it’s discovered that you have a nutritional deficiency then you should deal with this too so that these symptoms can cease.

Often certain lifestyle changes and medication is recommended for those who are dealing with the symptoms of restless leg. There are different medications available including muscle relaxants, antidepressants, medication that is normally given to those with epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease plus opiods. Because these treatments are designed to treat other medical conditions, their use as a treatment for RLS can have mixed results.

If you prefer to try alternative therapies first before trying any of the above medication you should look at yoga, massage, exercise along with hot or cool packs. This will all help you develop a more normal sleeping pattern with your restless leg syndrome.



  1. DeathMitten says:

    There’s a yoga treatment for RLS?

    I’ve never known – and my aunt has had RLS for quite some time.

    Can you direct me to some of those yoga-based RLS-treatments you mention in your post?

  2. April says:

    just yoga in general.

  3. Brecki says:

    My RLS is taken care of each night with potassium, magnesium and calcium supplementation. Magnesium also works for falling asleep quickly and easily. It’s a wonderful mineral! Also a pain killer (for me).

  4. Richard says:

    Brecki, how many tablets do you take and when do you take them?

  5. I’m having all those symptoms that you have mentioned above. Severe pain in the legs. I’m not diabetic patient but I do smoke 15-20 cigarettes per day. Is this the reason for my restless legs?

  6. ru4real says:

    My mom, my brother, and I all three have RLS and it is SO frustrating! I DO believe it is hereditary, but I have noticed that it is worse if I get too warm at night. I also notice that it gets better if I take an Advil as soon as the symptoms start.

  7. judith says:

    I think I must have a mild form of RLS. It seems to be worse in an evening when I’m watching TV. I seem to get it most in winter when I’m less active. I suppose I should try to exercise as I’m not a great one for taking pills.

  8. I have this problem when I am stressed. What works for me is an extra hot bath before bed, although yoga or massage sounds like fun as wel as effective.

  9. This was a very interesting article. I was drawn to it because my significant other has jumping legs at night. Many times he sleeps right through it, but I can always tell when he has had a day that was stressful on his legs. They really jump A LOT, and not just small jumps. You would think the movement alone would wake him.

    I however, have experienced something different the last year. My legs do not hurt, however, when I lay down to sleep, they get this eerie feeling, that I can’t quite describe. I feel like I have to move them, to rid myself of this awful feeling. Once I am asleep, it doesn’t wake me, but it has many times made it hard for me to sleep.

  10. I have an odd remedy for those of you who get leg cramps, the muscular kind.
    I heard about putting “hotel soap” under the bottom sheet of your bed at the foot end. I laughed but I tried it and it works. dont know why. and it is certainly not “in my head”.
    Leg cramps are a serious pain.

  11. Mark says:

    Amazing how many kinds of things can cause insomnia.

  12. bryan says:

    i’ve heard that smoking/caffiene can cause it, but i regularly drink coffee and not ready to quit anytime soon. i do yoga and get regular aerobic exercise- that seems to help. episodes are seldom after being active, now.

  13. sbattee says:

    I take folic acid before going to bed and it seems to have helped quite a bit. (Heard it from my homeopathic doctor). For me, it is usually tied to having too much sugar that day.

  14. usdutchgirl says:

    what happens if its not RLS are there other issues that can cause this like blood clots .