Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

What is RLS?

Restless legs syndrome is a sleep disorder in which a person experiences unpleasant sensations in the legs, which are described as:

These sensations usually occur in the calf area, but may be felt anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. One or both legs may be affected. For some people, the sensations are also felt in the arms. People with RLS have an irresistible urge to move the affected limb when the sensations occur. Moving often relieves the limb discomfort.

Some patients, however, have no definite sensation, except for the need to move. Sleep problems are common with RLS because of the difficulty it causes in getting to sleep. Severe daytime fatigue can be a significant problem for patients.

What causes RLS?

The cause of RLS is still unknown. Some cases are believed to be inherited, and some cases have been associated with nerve damage in the legs due to diabetes, kidney problems, or alcoholism. 

As many as one in 10 people in the U.S. may have RLS.

What are the symptoms of RLS?

Sensations occur when the person with RLS lies down or sits for prolonged periods of time, causing:

How is RLS diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose RLS based on your signs and symptoms, a complete medical history, and a physical examination. In addition, tests, such as laboratory tests or a sleep study, may be performed. Currently, there is not a definitive test to diagnose Restless Legs Syndrome.

What is the treatment for RLS?

Specific treatment for restless legs syndrome will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment options for restless legs syndrome may include:

Consult your doctor for more information regarding the treatment of restless legs syndrome.

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Online Resources of Respiratory Disorders


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