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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome

Alternate Names : Nocturnal Myoclonus, Akathisia

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Restless leg syndrome involves unusual sensations in the legs that cause frequent leg movements.

What is going on in the body?

No one knows exactly why restless leg syndrome occurs. People who suffer from restless leg syndrome have uncontrollable urges to move their legs. A feeling of discomfort in the leg prompts the need for movement. For some people, these sensations may be the result of nerve damage. The sensations may also be caused by decreased blood flow through some vessels in the legs.

These leg movements often occur after a person has gone to bed. This can make sleeping difficult. When the urge to move the leg happens during the day, a person may have to get up and walk around to relieve the discomfort.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

While the exact cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown, there is a strong genetic link. It tends to run in families. In a recent study of identical twins with restless leg syndrome, 10 out of 12 pairs reported having the syndrome.

Restless leg syndrome is also more common in:

  • people who are 40 years of age or older
  • individuals who are under a lot of stress
  • pregnant women, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • people with disorders of nerves that supply the muscles and skin, called peripheral nerve diseases
  • people with poor circulation who have intermittent limping, also called claudication, or leg pain that occurs when the person is walking
  • people with anemia, or a low red blood cell count. Many times, the anemia is caused by a low level of iron or folic acid in the person's body.
  • people with certain diseases and conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic renal failure, diabetes, and alcoholism
  • The symptoms of restless leg syndrome seem to be worsened by food and drinks that are high in caffeine.


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    Restless Leg Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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