Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a condition caused by uncomfortable sensations in the legs that produce an intense, often irresistible urge to move the legs. This can lead to sleep disturbance and severe fatigue that interferes with daily activities.

These sensations are described as "pins and needles," prickling, creeping, crawling, tingling, and sometimes painful. They most often occur in the evening when the person is attempting to relax or sleep. Moving the legs can temporarily relieve these sensations.

The cause of this syndrome is often not known. Certain drugs (such as antidepressants), pregnancy, or iron deficiency or related anemia can trigger it.

Restless legs syndrome can be treated with drugs such as those that increase the brain chemical dopamine (levodopa or dopamine agonists), pain medications (opioids), or anticonvulsants (gabapentin) to control leg movements and assist with sleep.

Last Updated: March 13, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology

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