This movement disorder is similar to PLMD, but only occurs before sleep onset oftentimes causing insomnia. It may be an indescribable feeling, but it has also been characterized by creeping, crawling, aching, twitching and the urge to constantly move one’s legs. Some patients who complain of restless legs syndrome, also complain of leg movements in sleep. Generally patients with restless legs have to massage/rub, march or walk the sensations off. These symptoms may also occur during the day and are sometimes described as ‘active legs.’ Treatment for RLS usually involves medication.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that often occurs in otherwise healthy individuals. It is characterized by pain or discomfort in the lower limbs while at rest, usually just prior to sleep or during periods of wakefulness at night. People often describe the discomfort as an aching pain, or as a “tingling,” “creeping/crawling” or other bothersome sensation. RLS is more common in older people, but can occur in young adults as well.
People who suffer from RLS often report difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. These difficulties may range from mild to severe, but in many cases result in significant nighttime distress and daytime fatigue. Sufferers often report the problem of “insomnia” to their doctors; however, it is important to distinguish RLS from primary insomnia because the treatments are different. RLS does not improve with conventional treatments for “insomnia.”
One interesting fact about RLS is that symptoms usually occur when the sufferer is at rest, but are not present during periods of activity. Therefore, people with RLS often report that the discomfort in their limbs goes away if they get out of bed and walk about. Even non-physical activity can seemingly reduce the symptoms of RLS!
Treatment of RLS can begin at home. Many people find relief from massage, applied heat, or hot baths before bedtime. A number of medications also have been found to be effective and safe in the treatment of RLS. These medications act on the neurotransmitter substance “dopamine,” such as pramipexole (Mirapex®) or ropinirole (Requip®).