The facts about Restless Leg Syndrome

The facts about Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome

Just when you go to sleep and lie down on the bed do you feel an ache in your leg, an irritating and throbbing feeling that does not allow you to sleep through the night? Then you must be suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome.


The restless Leg Syndrome is a is a neurological ailment characterized by throbbing, creeping, pulling, or other disagreeable sensations in the legs and an uncontainable, and sometimes overpowering, urge to move them. Symptoms crop up mainly at night when a person is at rest and can increase in severity through the night. The uncomfortable sensation could be anything from irritating to painful.

The uncomfortable itching, aching, or tingling sensation can keep you up throughout the night. This keeps you from getting proper sleep. When you get out of bed and move around, you feel relief, but then once back into bed the same feeling crops up. It also feels better when you massage or stretch the leg. However, the minute you are back to resting your leg, it starts to throb or pain again. It is also known as the shaking leg syndrome when the involuntary jerking of the leg or repetitive cramping of the leg is involved.

Causes of RLS

Though it is affects both the sexes it is more common among women and that too during the middle ages. The problem is quite common, but it goes untreated in many. Some find it difficult to explain to the doctors the kind of suffering they are undergoing.

Many doctors too are unable to explain the real cause of Restless Leg Syndrome. However, most associate iron deficiency as the real cause for this problem.

Iron Deficiency

It has also been noted genes also play an important role in this problem.

Genetic Problem

People suffering from restless leg syndrome may have someone in the family suffering from the same problem.


It has been noted that many women during pregnancy have this restless leg syndrome. It is usually in the last trimester and this is temporary. It usually fades away a few months after delivery.

Chronic Diseases

Some chronic diseases like kidney failure, Parkinson disease, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy have been associated with restless leg syndrome. Even rheumatoid arthritis can trigger the problem in many.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can sometimes trigger the problem in some people.


Sometimes certain medication can aggravate the problem. Antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, anti nausea drugs, and cold and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines may deteriorate symptoms.


There are no laboratory tests that can determine your restless leg syndrome. However, blood tests can determine iron deficiency in you as this could be one reason. Most doctors go on the symptoms of the patient.

Going through the family history of the person the doctor can determine, if you are suffering from the restless leg syndrome.

In some cases, sleep studies or polysomnography-a test that records the individual’s brain waves, heartbeat, breathing, and leg movements during an entire night- may be useful in determining if you are suffering from any other sleep problem.


Doctors usually prescribe levodopa or a dopamine agonist such as pramipexole for restless leg syndrome. Some also prescribe narcotic pain relievers.

Home Treatments

Some home treatments can provide good relief to people suffering from Restless leg syndrome. In fact, bringing about a lifestyle change can help prevent or reduce the severity of the problem. Leg massages, losing weight, sticking to regular sleep schedules, cutting down on smoking and alcohol, dietary supplements for iron, vitamin B, etc., avoiding alcohol and smoking can really help with the problem. Light to moderate exercises and stretching too can help with the problem.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad