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Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable urge to move when at rest.

This urge stems from the unpleasant sensations such as burning, creeping or tugging in the legs and the movements are being made to relieve these feelings. These sensations are medically known as paresthesia (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations) and they range in severity from mildly uncomfortable to irritating or painful. The most unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. It represent a very serious condition because many people with RLS report that their job, personal relations, and daily activities are strongly affected as a result of their exhaustion. 

Incidence

Some researchers estimate that RLS affects as many as 12 million Americans. There might be a lot more affected people but this condition is often under-diagnosed or in some cases, misdiagnosed. It is often confused with nervousness, insomnia, stress, arthritis, muscle cramps, or aging. Big problem is that RLS occurs in both genders, although the incidence may be slightly higher in women. It can begin at any age, even as early as infancy- but most patients are middle-aged or older.

Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Several researches have proven that more than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience a more common condition known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). PLMD is characterized by involuntary leg twitching or jerking movements during sleep that typically occur every 10 to 60 seconds, sometimes throughout the night.

Unlike RLS, the movements caused by PLMD are involuntary. Although many patients with RLS also develop PLMD, most people with PLMD do not experience RLS.  

Signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms include:

Origination during inactivity
The most common characteristic is that the sensation typically begins while the patient is lying down or sitting for an extended period of time. This usually happens in a car, airplane or cinema.

Relief by movement
The sensation of RLS lessens if the patient gets up and moves. Different patients do different stuff to relieve their symptoms. Some fight against these sensations by stretching, jiggling their legs, pacing the floor, some by exercising or walking. 

Worsening of symptoms in the evening
The symptoms are typically less bothersome during the day and are felt primarily at night.

Nighttime leg twitching
Most patients with RLS find it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep because of the twitching or kicking that occurs. The results are well known - insomnia leading to excessive daytime drowsiness.
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