Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a sensation induced by an immobilization of the legs. Learn more about restless leg syndrome and what you can do about it from our medical expert in this free video.
You may have heard more recently, due to increased pharmaceutical advertising and other increased mentions of the media, of something called restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome is characterized by burning, tingling or painful sensations in the legs that occur mostly at night and especially when a person is at a state of inactivity and the only way it seems to be to calm these feelings is to get up out of bed, move around, walk a little, maybe stretch, do some yoga. People with RLS also experience it, sometimes experience it, during the day and will also experience symptoms when they are sitting for a long time in a car or if they are sitting at a movie or other lengthy activity that involves minimal movement and motion in the legs. It's not exactly known what causes RLS, and more confounding than that is these sensations seem to be different than any other sort of pain or tingle sensation that a patient will have. It's something that's very hard for a patient to describe and up until it was seriously studied by sleep medicine something that was hard for health care providers, doctors and nurse practitioners to understand. Patients will come in and describe itching in their legs, but not a dry skin or rash itching, "the heebie jeebies" is one way a patient has described it to me in the past, "the herky-jerkies," I get the tingles. The phrase "restless legs" is probably the best catch all for this whole span of symptoms that patients describe, and of course some patients will report restless legs and it won't really be restless legs, dry skin, somebody who gets a compulsion to itch dry skin with their heels, that could be perceived as restless legs. But then there is obvious physical signs of itching or dry skin or abrasion to the skin caused by the itching.