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What is Restless legs syndrome?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a neurological disorder that causes a feeling of discomfort that is only relieved momentarily by moving the legs, due to an uncontrollable compulsion to do so, especially when lying down or sitting, especially in the afternoon or at night.

Women are more likely to suffer from it than men, and it can appear at any time of life and at any age, increasing discomfort over the years, as the quality of sleep and the ease of performing daily activities are affected.

So far, it is unknown what causes restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, but studies indicate that it may be due to a deficiency of dopamine, a neurochemical that helps regulate muscle motility. However, it can also be due to hereditary factors, mainly if the disorder occurs before the age of 40, or as a result of pregnancy due to hormonal imbalances.

Sometimes this syndrome can be accompanied by other conditions, such as:

  • Lack of iron.
  • Diabetes.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Spinal cord injuries.

Signs and symptoms Restless legs syndrome

The symptoms can vary from simple discomfort to total incapacity, characterized by an abnormal and unpleasant sensation in both legs, particularly at night, which produces spasms.

Some symptoms are:

  • Strong desire to move your legs, especially after sitting or lying down for a long time.
  • Feeling of relief when walking, stretching, or shaking the legs.
  • Having trouble falling asleep.
  • Electric shocks.
  • Itch.
  • Pain.
  • Tingling.

Sometimes the symptoms disappear for a while and then appear again, sometimes with greater intensity.

Risks to consider:

The biggest problem is difficulty falling asleep, which can trigger:

  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Drowsiness in the day.
  • Depression as the quality of life is affected.

Diagnosis and treatment Restless legs syndrome

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and assess your symptoms based on the following criteria:

  • Uncontrollable need to move the legs, accompanied by discomfort that is often difficult to describe.
  • Symptoms increase when at rest, either sitting or lying down.
  • Improvement when moving the legs.
  • Symptoms increase at night.

Sometimes your doctor may order blood tests and refer you to a sleep specialist to rule out any other abnormalities. Treatment is focused on the cause of restless legs syndrome through lifestyle changes and medication to help control symptoms.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.


Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


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    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.