Restless leg syndrome is a disorder characterized by:

  • A disagreeable, uncomfortable sensation in the legs, accompanied by
  • An irresistible urge to move the legs, which is
  • Worse at night and when lying down, with the
  • Discomfort eased with movement, stretching, or walking.

RLS affects around 8-10% of Americans. Although the symptoms can occur at any time during the 24 hour day, they are typically most troublesome at night, when the person becomes inactive and lies down to sleep. The usual cause is unknown, although it can occur in association with other medical conditions such as iron or vitamin deficiency, kidney disease, arthritis, pregnancy, diabetes, nerve damage, and Parkinson’s disease. The disorder appears to be more common in females and becomes more common as people become older.

The symptoms on RLS include sensations deep inside the legs, often described as:

ceepy-crawly pulling itching
jittery burning ants crawling
Elvis legs bubbling water tugging
painful prickling itching

Therapy often consists of conservative measures such as warm baths, massage, moderate exercise, along with avoidance of caffeine and certain medications which may worsen the symptoms. Generally good sleep hygiene, or sleep habits always appropriate. Treatment of the underlying associated medical condition may also be warranted. Also, prescription medications may be indicated. Your sleep specialist with be able to determine which treatment option is best for you. Also, we perform medical research studies on the latest drugs available for this and other sleep disorders including insomnia.

Timothy L. Grant, M.D., A.B.S.M.

Medical Director Neuroscience Consultant Sleep Diagnostic Center
Medical Director for Sleep and Neurologic Research at Miami Research Associates
Medical Director Baptist Hospital of Miami Sleep Education Program