Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is characterised by an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs, combined with sensory disturbances. The urge to move the legs typically happens in the evening and when the affected person is sitting quietly or lying down.

Overview

Restless legs syndrome is characterised by an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs, combined with sensory disturbances. The urge to move the legs typically happens in the evening and when the affected person is sitting quietly or lying down. Restless legs often occur in families. Relieving measures include massages, sleep hygiene and the avoidance of caffeine.

Symptoms

  • Worsening of symptoms
    • In the evening and at night
    • While at rest
  • Urge to move
    • Sitting or lying
    • While falling asleep
    • In the feet and legs, more seldom in the arms
    • “Crawling in the legs”
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Problems sleeping through the night
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Movement control by getting up frequently and walking around

Causes and treatment

Causes

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Diagnosis is based on symptoms
  • Questionnaire
  • Neurological examination
  • Blood test
  • Sleep laboratory
Possible therapies
  • Medication (dopamine, benzodiazepines, opiates)
  • Stopping medication that worsens/triggers the condition, if necessary
  • Treatment of a mineral deficiency, if any (iron, magnesium)
  • Treatment of an underlying disease, if any

What can I do myself?

  • Movement to provide relief
  • Massages (e.g. calves, legs)
  • Cold or hot baths
  • Dietary change
    • E.g. stop using caffeine (coffee)
  • Sleep hygiene
    • Fixed times for going to bed and getting up
    • No shift work

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Schweiz. Restless Legs Selbsthilfegruppe (Swiss Restless Legs Self-Help Group)
www.restless-legs.ch

Synonyms

restless legs syndrome, restless legs, RLS, Willis-Ekbom disease

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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