Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic disorder. It is characterized by:
- Unpleasant sensations in the legs
- An irresistible urge to move your legs
The cause of primary RLS is unknown. In some cases, RLS may be genetic. Or, it may be caused by other conditions or certain drugs. This is called secondary RLS.
Many people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). This is a related motor disorder characterized by:
- Involuntary, repetitive, jerking movements
- Interrupted sleep because of periodic leg movements
These factors increase your chance of developing RLS:
- Family members with RLS
- Pregnancy—Some women have RLS during pregnancy. The symptoms usually go away after giving birth.
- Low iron levels—with or without anemia —may happen if you give blood a lot.
- Northern European descent
- Chronic disease, which can lead to secondary RLS:
- Certain medicines, including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], lithium, caffeine, dopamine antagonists, and sedating antihistamines
Symptoms may include:
- Feelings of tingling, creeping, pulling, prickling, pins and needles, or pain in the legs during periods of rest or inactivity—may also occur in the arms
- Symptoms typically get worse at night
- A strong urge to relieve uncomfortable sensations with movement
- Restlessness, including floor pacing, tossing and turning in bed, and rubbing the legs
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
- Hypersomnia—recurrent episodes of excessive