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Restless Leg Syndrome: What Patients Should Know

Have you ever been about to fall asleep when suddenly you have this unrelenting urge to move your legs? Maybe it has only happened once or twice, or maybe it is more chronic. One thing you do know is that the feeling is strange and you must move your legs. Getting up and moving around seems to help. Known as restless leg syndrome or Willis Ekbom disease, it can disrupt your sleep and cause other domino effects. Restless leg syndrome: what patients should know.

legs moving in bed

Causes And Known Facts About Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

There is no one cause determined for this syndrome. It is sometimes called a neurological (nervous system) disorder and other times a sleep disorder. It can be due to an imbalance in the brain chemical, dopamine.

What we do know:

  • RLS can run in families. 92% of patients with RLS have a first degree relative who has it.
  • It is more common in women.
  • It occurs more in the evening.
  • It becomes more common as we get older, although it has been known to affect children.
  • There is no cure.
  • Symptoms can be mild to intolerable.

The feeling in the legs is described as throbbing, pins and needles, aching, creeping, gnawing, and pulling sensations. Many patients find it difficult to explain. It can also occur in the arms, face, or trunk.

Some Accompanying Conditions And Possible Triggers

RLS seems to occur with patients who have an iron deficiency, Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, and damage to hands and feet from diabetes or alcoholism.

Taking antidepressants, allergy meds, anti-nausea, and anti-dizziness medications can trigger the syndrome. Talk with Puget Sound Neurology in Tacoma, WA about what other medications could be a trigger for you.

You should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco if you have restless leg syndrome.

At-Home Treatments For RLS

As mentioned previously, there is no cure, but you can attempt some at home treatments and lifestyle changes to reduce the symptoms and their frequency.

They include the following:

  • Maintain a set sleep schedule
  • Leg massages
  • Take hot baths
  • Use a heat pad or apply ice to your legs
  • Reduce stress
  • Regular exercise

Taking iron supplements, Vitamin B12 and magnesium may also help.


RLS is not life threatening, but it can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. It interferes with your quality of life and can result in depression and daytime drowsiness which can be dangerous.

Call (253) 284-4488 to make an appointment with Puget Sound Neurology if you suspect you have restless leg syndrome, and find out what else you can do to relieve the symptoms.

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