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A Patient's Guide to Restless Leg Syndrome

Last updated 3 years ago

Restless leg syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system that causes someone an overwhelming urge to move his or her legs. This urge to move one’s legs usually interferes with sleep; so restless leg syndrome is classified as a type of sleep disorder. Even though most people with restless leg syndrome are middle-aged or older, people of all ages can potentially develop the condition.   

The most common symptom of restless leg syndrome is uncomfortable sensations in the legs or arms. Some people describe this sensation as “itchy,” “pins and needles,” or “creepy crawly.” Typically, these symptoms are worse when lying down or at times of rest. The severity of symptoms depends on the person, as symptoms can range from mild to intolerable. Some people experience symptoms so severe that it significantly impairs their ability to achieve quality sleep each night.

Even though restless leg syndrome affects men and women, it is more common among women. Unfortunately, restless leg syndrome is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed, especially if symptoms are mild. Doctors may not be entirely sure what causes restless leg syndrome, but they believe a genetic link exists. Other factors that can trigger restless leg syndrome include chronic diseases, medications, and pregnancy.

Treatment for restless leg syndrome focuses on treating the symptoms. Physicians usually recommend lifestyle changes for people with mild or moderate symptoms. For example, doctors may recommend beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and limiting consumption of alcohol or caffeine. In addition, doctors may recommend leg massages or hot baths. If these treatment options are ineffective, doctors may recommend drugs that help relieve symptoms. However, a drug that helps one person with restless leg syndrome may aggravate symptoms in another person.

At Sleep Services of Maryland, our mission is to increase awareness of various sleep disorders and provide comprehensive care. We have more than 20 years of experience helping Maryland patients restore the energy and vitality needed to enjoy life. For more information about sleep disorder treatment, give us a call at (240) 912-4683.


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