Sleep Disorders: Restless Leg Syndrome

How do I know if I have Restless Leg Syndrome?

  • When sitting or lying down, do you have unpleasant or creepy-crawly sensations in your legs (and sometimes in other parts of your body), tied to a strong feeling or urge to move?
  • Do the sensations and urge to move come on during periods of rest or inactivity and are they relieved by movement?
  • Do the sensations and urge to move bother you more in the evening and at night rather than during the day?
  • Do you often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
  • Does your bedpartner tell you that you jerk your legs (or your arms) when you are asleep; do you sometimes, have involuntary leg jerks when you are awake?
  • Are you frequently tired or fatigued during the day?
  • Do you have family members who experience these same sensations and urge to move?
  • Have medical tests not revealed a cause for your sensations and urge to move?

If you do have restless legs syndrome (RLS), you are not alone. Up to 8% of the North American population may have this condition.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

Research into the cause of RLS is ongoing. RLS often runs in families. Researchers are currently looking for the gene or genes that may be responsible for this form of RLS, also known as Primary or Familial RLS. Secondary RLS may be the result of another condition, which when present worsens the underlying RLS. During Pregnancy, particularly during the last few months, up to 15% of women develop RLS. After delivery, their symptoms often vanish.

How is Restless Leg Syndrome Diagnosed?

  • See your doctor; evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended.
  • Have a sleep study done; a sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor determine your diagnosis and treatment options.

Though RLS is diagnosed most often in people in their middle years, many individuals with RLS, particularly those with Primary RLS, can trace their symptoms back to childhood. These symptoms may have been called growing pains or the children may have been thought to be hyperactive because they had difficulty sitting quietly.

What are possible treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome?

Home remedies to ease the discomfort:

  • Take a hot bath
  • Have a leg massage
  • Use a heating pad/ ice pack
  • Eliminate caffeine from your diet
  • Exercise regularly

When home remedies are not effective, healthcare providers may treat RLS with medications.

Persons suspecting that they may have RLS should consult a qualified healthcare provider. Literature concerning RLS that is distributed by MRC Healthcare, Inc., including this brochure, is offered for information purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a healthcare provider.