It feels like I have
electricity running through
my legs 

About restless legs syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is characterized by a distressing urge to move the legs and sometimes the arms and other parts of the body. This urge to move is often accompanied by discomfort. Moving around can help relieve these symptoms. In the United States, RLS is believed to affect more than 10 million adults and 1.5 million children and adolescents.

Researchers have yet to find a single cause for Restless Legs Syndrome. They have found that RLS tends to run in families; this is called primary RLS. They also know that RLS can result from another condition such as pregnancy, damage to the nerves of the feet or hands, or low iron anemia; this is called secondary RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome tends to affect adults 30 and older and is more common in women than in men.

 I have a
creepy-crawly feeling
in my legs 

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is characterized by an urge to move the legs and sometimes the arms and other parts of the body. This urge is often accompanied by unpleasant sensations. These symptoms can occur infrequently or on a daily basis and range from mild to severe.

While there is not yet a lab test that can confirm the presence of RLS, physicians use these four criteria to diagnose it:

  • An urge to move the legs, arms, or other parts of the body
  • Symptoms begin or become worse when a person is inactive or at rest
  • Symptoms are relieved by walking, stretching, and doing other activities
  • Symptoms begin or become worse in the evening

If you have experienced some of the symptoms described above, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Only your doctor will be able to diagnose RLS.

 It feels like I have
worms crawling deep inside
my muscles 

Seeing a doctor

If you are experiencing the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine if the symptoms are due to RLS or to something else.

At your next doctor visit:

  • Discuss the symptoms you’re experiencing
  • Review your medical history. Let your doctor know if family members have had RLS
  • Tell your doctor about any over-the-counter or prescription medicines you take. Some medicines can trigger the symptoms of RLS, including medicines used to treat high blood pressure, colds, allergies, and nausea
  • Tell your doctor about any herbal or dietary supplements you use
  • Ask about exercises, stretches, and other activities you can do to help manage your symptoms

References

Allen RP, Walter AS, Montplaisir J, et al. Restless Legs Syndrome prevalence and impact: REST General Population Study. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165;1286-1292.

Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. RLS Medical Bulletin: a Publication for Healthcare Providers. Rochester, MN: Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation; 2011.

Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation. Willis-Ekbom Disease: Causes, diagnosis and treatment. Rochester, MN: Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation; 2013. http://www.rls.org/document.doc?id=2323. Accessed November 12, 2014.