What Is RLS?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings.
Restless legs syndrome sensations are often described by people as:
- like insects crawling inside the legs
Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue.
Coping With RLS
Many with RLS report they are unable to concentrate, have impaired memory or fail to accomplish daily tasks. Many things are strongly affected as a result of their exhaustion including:
- their job
- personal relations
- activities of daily living
Some experts estimate that RLS affects as many as 12 million Americans. However, others estimate a much higher occurrence because RLS is thought to be underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Some will not seek medical attention, believing that:
- they will not be taken seriously
- their symptoms are too mild
- that their condition is not treatable
Doctors wrongly attribute the symptoms to:
- muscle cramps