Restless legs syndrome (RLS), Willis-Restless legs syndrome, or Ekbom disease is characterised by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, usually triggered by an uncomfortable sensation, mainly during night-time, when the patient tries to rest.
Restless legs syndrome can start at any age and generally worsens with time, with a devastating impact on sleep and daily activities.
The main symptom is an urge to move the legs.
Other common accompanying symptoms might include:
Strange sensations on the lower limbs when you try to take a rest. The sensations are usually described as crawling, tingling, aching, itching, or electric.
Symptoms are worse during night-time.
Movement can help to release strange sensations.
The patient might also experience a night-time lower twitching or kicking during sleep, a more common condition. called periodic limb movement of sleep.
Less commonly, the symptoms might be present on the upper limbs as well. Fluctuations of symptoms and periods of improvement and worsening are quite common.
The diagnostic process starts with a neurological examination, reviewing the symptoms and the patient’s medical history.
The neurologist often recommends blood tests to rule out iron deficiency, which is common in RLS patients.
The neurologist might further consider other investigations, including Electromyography or Thermal Threshold Studies to exclude peripheral nerve disorder and polysomnography for more detailed assessment of sleep difficulties.
The symptoms can be positively influenced by simple self-care steps, lifestyle changes, and medication. Treatment for iron deficiency might help if the blood tests indicate an iron deficiency.