“Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them”.1

Umbrella
What may the Restless Legs Syndrome Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Ekbom syndrome
  • Ekbom’s syndrome
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome/Willis-Ekbom Disease (RLS/WED)
  • Willis-Ekbom Disease

Definition

What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

DotS the definition of RLS may vary. The (United States) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s (NINDS) definition is:

“Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them”.2

The (Australian) Brain Foundation and Headache Australia’s definition is:

“Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterised by unpleasant sensations in the legs and the compelling need to move the legs, usually experienced when trying to sleep. The strange sensation, usually in the calves, has been described as a type of cramp, soreness or a creeping, crawling feeling. Some liken the sensation to shooting darts of electricity, or even squirming insects inside the legs. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful”.3

Signs and Symptoms

What are common signs and symptoms of RLS?

In Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Are Common Signs and Symptoms of Restless Legs? the NINDS explain:

“People with RLS feel the irresistible urge to move, which is accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in their lower limbs that are unlike normal sensations experienced by people without the disorder. The sensations in their legs are often difficult to define but may be described as aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping. These sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rarely the chest or head. Although the sensations can occur on just one side of the body, they most often affect both sides. They can also alternate between sides. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful”.4

PLMS and PLMW

What are Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS) and Periodic Limb Movements of Wakefulness (PLMW)?

DotS the definition of PLMS and PLMW may vary.In Restless Legs Syndrome: Description the (United States) Genetics Home Reference definitions are:

“Many people with restless legs syndrome also experience uncontrollable, repetitive leg movements that occur while they are sleeping or while relaxed or drowsy. When these movements occur during sleep, they are called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS); when they occur while a person is awake, they are called periodic limb movements of wakefulness (PLMW). It is unclear whether PLMS and PLMW are features of restless legs syndrome itself or represent similar, but separate, conditions”.5

Common or Not

How common is RLS?

In Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Is Restless Legs Syndrome? the NINDS explain:

“It is estimated that up to 7-10 percent of the U.S. population may have RLS. RLS occurs in both men and women, although women are more likely to have it than men. It may begin at any age. Many individuals who are severely affected are middle-aged or older, and the symptoms typically become more frequent and last longer with age”.6

Menopause and RLS

Is there an association between menopause and RLS?

In Menopause and Insomnia: Causes – Restless Legs Syndrome the (British) Women’s Health Concern explain:

“One study of RLS patients found 69 per cent of post-menopausal women perceived their symptoms as worse than before menopause”.7

Restless Legs SyndromeLook for A Pattern

How may I Look for A Pattern with RLS?

In RLS Monitor the (United Kingdom) RLS-UK elaborate on:

“During a medical consultation there is limited time available and it can be hard to accurately look back and relay when our symptoms were at their worst. With this in mind, ‘My RLS Monitor’ has been developed, a seven-day tracker for symptoms to allow you to report your symptoms more comprehensively to your doctor and allow both you and your medical practitioner to spot patterns and/or to help compare these symptoms with previous monitoring and to help keep a track on medication”.8

In Symptoms & Diagnosis: RLS Symptom Diary the (United States) Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation elaborate on:

“The RLS Symptom Diary is a convenient tool to record information on your daily symptoms such as when they occur, how long they last and possible triggers such as nicotine, alcohol or caffeine”.9

Health Care Provider

What if I thinks I have RLS?

If you think you have RLS, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. Together you can discuss your options and if required, agree on who may be the most appropriate health care provider to help you.

In Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms & Causes – Overview: When To See A Doctor the (United States) Mayo Clinic encourage us to seek help:

“Some people with RLS never seek medical attention because they worry they won’t be taken seriously. But RLS can interfere with your sleep and cause daytime drowsiness and affect your quality of life. Talk with your doctor if you think you may have RLS”.10

Health Topics A-Z

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Sources

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Sources

  1. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Is Restless Legs Syndrome? Date Last Modified: 17 March 2020. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/restless-legs-syndrome-fact-sheet Accessed: 23 October 2020
  2. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Is Restless Legs Syndrome? Date Last Modified: 17 March 2020. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/restless-legs-syndrome-fact-sheet Accessed: 23 October 2020
  3. Restless Legs Syndrome Description. Brain Foundation and Headache Australia https://brainfoundation.org.au/disorders/restless-legs-syndrome/ Accessed: 23 October 2020
  4. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Are Common Signs and Symptoms of Restless Legs? Date Last Modified: 17 March 2020. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/restless-legs-syndrome-fact-sheet Accessed: 23 October 2020
  5. Restless Legs Syndrome. Page Last Updated on: 18 September 2020. Page Last Reviewed: 01 May 2018. Published: 09 June 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/restless-legs-syndrome/ Accessed: 23 October 2020
  6. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet: What Is Restless Legs Syndrome? Date Last Modified: 17 March 2020. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/restless-legs-syndrome-fact-sheet Accessed: 23 October 2020
  7. Menopause and Insomnia: Causes – Restless Legs Syndrome. Publication: September 2018. Women’s Health Concern https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopause-and-insomnia/ Accessed: 23 October 2020
  8. RLS Monitor. RLS-UK https://www.rls-uk.org/rls-monitor Accessed: 23 October 2020
  9. Symptoms & Diagnosis: RLS Symptom Diary. National Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation https://www.rls.org/understanding-rls/symptoms-diagnosis Accessed: 23 October 2020
  10. Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms & Causes – Overview: When To See A Doctor. 21 January 2020 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20377168 Accessed: 23 October 2020

Topic Last Updated: 23 October 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 23 October 2020
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