The Primary Features of Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease which is an illness accompanying by abnormal sensations in the legs. It is estimated that 5 % of the general population and as many as 10% of those over the age of 65 have this condition. A person with this condition may experience various sensations in the legs such as pinching, crawling, pulling, pins and needles, or pressure, but rarely pain. An occasional involuntary jerking movement may also occur. Temporary relief may be provided by movement of the legs. If left untreated, symptoms will continue to worsen.

There are four primary features of Restless Leg Syndrome:

1. Uncomfortable sensation in the legs with an urge to move the legs.

The sensation may be referring to different ways, from pulling and aching to creepy crawling feelings. The sensations may be painful as well. After a while, all sufferers can recognize a need or urge to move the legs as a driving force behind their complaints. These sensations typically happen in the calf area but can be felt anywhere from the ankle up to the thigh. For several people, the sensations are also sensed in their arms. Persons with Restless Leg Syndrome have an enticing need to move the affected limb once the sensations happen.   

2. The symptoms worsen at night.

Symptoms may start in the evening when trying to sit for any time or may occur only at bedtime. Sleep problems are common in people with Restless Leg Syndrome. It is because of the difficulty it causes in getting to sleep. Various individuals might have symptoms during the day, but these symptoms will get worse at night and be better at times in the morning.

3. The symptoms relieve with rest.

The sensations are likely to strike whether sitting through a long plane flight or trying to lie quietly at bedtime. Whether trying to quietly read a book or sit through a movie, the symptoms will make what used to be an enjoyable event a most awful one. You cannot relax, you cannot rest, or you cannot sleep another night.

4. The symptoms are less severe with movement.

People having this condition learn fast that getting up and walking will right away relieve the symptoms. On the other hand, once the person is back at rest, the symptoms will typically return. A few movements of the legs will frequently bring about some instant, though temporary relief. If the legs are not moved, they might jump on their own.

In particular persons, there may be semi-involuntary movements of the legs led by only a very short-term sensation. Several persons with Restless Leg Syndrome will have semi-rhythmic or rhythmic movements of their legs while they are asleep. Even though they might not be aware of their movement, commonly their bed partner is. It is this movement of the legs, this constant walking to fight off the sensation that gives the viewer the insight of the patient being restless, thus the term Restless Legs Syndrome.

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