Classic symptoms of restless legs syndrome include burning, creeping or pulling sensations, and the uncontrollable urge to move in order to stop the discomfort. The uncomfortable sensations have also been described as pulling, drawing, wormy, tingling, pins and needles, pricking, itching, or achy. About 20% of patients find the sensations to be painful. Symptoms may last for a few minutes, or for several hours. The symptoms seem worse in the evening, or when you are lying down or sitting.
RLS sensations usually occur between the ankle and the knee. However, you may also feel them in the feet, thighs, or sometimes the arms or trunk. Most often you will feel the sensations in both legs rather than just one. One side may seem more severe at times, or you may feel the sensations more often in one leg than the other.
Symptoms occur at night or when the legs are at rest. The sensations often prevent sufferers from falling asleep. You may become sleep-deprived, feel tired during the day, and have difficulty concentrating.
Moving the limb temporarily lessens the sensations. Sufferers are sometimes referred to as nightwalkers, because they get up and walk to relieve the sensations. Not moving your legs while driving or watching television may bring on the symptoms.
Symptoms often grow worse over time. Even if self-care lifestyle changes initially bring relief, the sensations are likely to come back and progress.
If you have a parent who has RLS, your chances of developing it are higher than average.
RLS occurs more frequently in middle-aged and older adults. Restless legs syndrome usually occurs in people over the age of 30. However, children may also suffer from RLS. Many people with the genetic form of RLS remember having similar symptoms during childhood. When young, they may have been told they had growing pains, or were hyperactive because they constantly fidgeted.
Taking certain medications (for high blood pressure, for example) and suffering from various medical conditions (such as diabetes) increases the risk. Drugs that can bring on or increase RLS symptoms include calcium-channel blockers, used in treating high blood pressure and other heart conditions; drugs to treat nausea; some cold and allergy products; major tranquilizers; and some drugs used to treat depression. Medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, or vitamin, mineral, and other deficiencies raise your risk.
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