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What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

At SleepMS, we diagnose and treat a wide range of sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome (RLS). Dr. Alex Clerk is our highly-qualified sleep doctor, with fellowship training from the prestigious Stanford University sleep medicine program and board certifications in both sleep medicine and neurology. Learn more about our RLS treatments below, or schedule an appointment to sleep better and live better today.

What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that manifests as a restless or twitching feeling in the legs when an individual is lying or sitting down. The feeling is relieved by moving, standing, or walking around. Most people who suffer from RLS have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, causing exhaustion and fatigue during the day, resulting in poor concentration, memory loss, and even depression.

What are the signs and symptoms of RLS?

There is no laboratory test to diagnose RLS. Diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical criteria that must be satisfied. Following are some of the common symptoms associated with RLS:

  • Uncomfortable sensations in the legs (may affect the arms or body as well)

  • Tingling

  • Throbbing

  • Pulling

  • Pinching

  • Aching

  • Irresistible urge to move the legs

  • Sensation relieved by movement

  • Symptoms are worse in the evening or at rest


What are the risk factors for RLS?

You may have a higher risk of developing RLS if you:

  • Have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or kidney failure

  • Are taking medications that contain sedating antihistamines (such as anti-depressants, anti-nausea, anti-psychotic, or allergy medications)

  • Are pregnant; symptoms may worsen in the last trimester of pregnancy


How is RLS diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of RLS, an experienced sleep specialist can help make a correct diagnosis. Because there is no specific test for RLS, it is important to consult a sleep doctor, such as Dr. Clerk, who is board-certified in sleep medicine and experienced in diagnosing and treating all types of sleep disorders, including RLS. Making a diagnosis typically begins with a physical examination and sleep history evaluation.

How is RLS treated?

Restless leg syndrome treatment may include:

  • Improving sleep hygiene, which consists of implementing sleep habits and routines that are conducive to consistent, quality sleep.

  • Treating underlying medical conditions, such as iron deficiency or other existing health problems that may cause RLS or worsen RLS symptoms.

  • Medical management, which may consist of prescribing FDA-approved medications for the treatment of RLS.

  • Sleep devices may occasionally be used, which can help alleviate the uneasy sensation and improve symptoms.

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