A neurological disorder
Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes people to experience strange and uncomfortable sensations in their legs and arms. RLS can feel like creeping or crawling under the skin, and can be quite painful, causing an irresistible urge to move. These sensations generally arise while lying down or sitting, tend to get worse in the evening and at night, and keep people from resting and relaxing and may even affect sleep.
RLS is more common than you may think
If you think you're the only one suffering from RLS, think again. RLS is one of the most common neurological disorders in North America, affecting up to 23 million American adults. It is estimated that a third have moderate-to-severe RLS. More women than men get RLS, and the likelihood of getting the condition increases with age. Actually RLS has been around for a long time. Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, it was first described as early as the 17th century by Thomas Willis. In the 1940s, a neurologist named Karl-Axel Ekbom led the first clinical studies, recognizing the negative effects of RLS on sleep and daytime activities.
RLS is one of the most common neurological disorders in North America, affecting up to 23 million American adults.
Symptoms can occur day or night
The main symptoms of RLS—a powerful urge to move and pain or discomfort deep in the legs—can occur at any time of rest, and they can get even worse at night, interfering with sleep. The urge to move can interfere with daily activities and concentration too, since it can be difficult to sit still. One study found that 41% of patients have symptoms every day. It's important to note that for some people RLS is mildly annoying and symptoms don't occur regularly. But for others, RLS can be a life-altering condition that deserves medical attention.
RLS expert Philip M. Becker, MD, talks about this common neurological disorder
Dr. Becker is Medical Director of Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas.
Dr. Becker is a paid consultant of UCB, Inc., manufacturer of NEUPRO® (rotigotine transdermal system).
There are four key points doctors use to diagnose RLS. They can be described using the word URGE.
Urge to move the legs—sometimes accompanied by uncomfortable sensations deep in the legs that may be described as tingling, creeping, crawling, itching, or burning.
Rest induced—the urge to move gets worse during inactivity such as resting, sitting, or lying down.
Gets better with activity—movement such as walking or stretching brings relief, but unpleasant sensations reappear when you stop.
Evening and night—the urge to move increases in the evening or at night or occurs only in the evening or at night.
If this sounds familiar, you might have RLS. And you're not alone. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms.