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Restless Legs Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes a powerful urge to move your legs and feet. You may also have tingling, creeping, itching, or throbbing sensations in your legs. You may have discomfort or pain. Movement relieves the symptoms for a short time. RLS is usually worse late in the day and at night. Your symptoms may come and go for days or weeks at a time, and worsen during periods of stress.

What increases my risk for RLS?

  • A family history of RLS
  • Older age
  • Lack of sleep
  • Long-term lack of activity
  • Medical conditions such as iron deficiency, insomnia, neuropathy, or venous insufficiency
  • Medicines to treat depression, allergies, or seizures

How is RLS diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you to describe your symptoms. Tell him or her what triggers your symptoms, what time of day they occur, and what relieves them. Your provider may ask what medicines you take and when you take them.

How is RLS treated?

You may be given medicines to decrease your RLS symptoms. The following may also help manage your symptoms:

  • Keep your legs warm. Wear thick socks or use an electric blanket. It may also help to take a hot bath or massage your legs before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly. Moderate physical activity such as walking and stretching may help relieve your symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Get enough sleep. You may need to go to bed earlier to get the sleep you need. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol in the evening. Do not smoke or use tobacco products in the evening. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can prevent you from sleeping well.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You cannot sleep because of your symptoms.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments guides (external)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.