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As the name indicates, people who have this experience a very unpleasant sensation in their legs when they lie down, or even simply put their feet up. This may run in families, and it affects children and adults. It may affect up to 12,000,000 people in the United States. It is characterized primarily by sensory symptoms and a movement disorder. The uncomfortable crawling, cramping or drawing sensations are often alleviated by standing and walking around. The 4 primary features of restless leg syndrome, as defined by the International Restless Leg Syndrome Study Group in 1995, are:

  1. The desire to move the legs in association with unusual or uncomfortable sensations deep within the legs, usually in the calves; in some cases the arms may also be affected. The sensations are usually described as creeping, burning, tingling, cramping, aching, pulling, crawling or water flowing deep within the affected extremities.

  2. Motor restlessness in a response to or an effort to relieve unusual sensations or discomfort.

  3. Symptoms become worse while at rest and may be temporarily diminished by voluntary movements of the affected limb.

  4. Symptoms occur most frequently during the evening or early part of the night (for example, between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m.) and often interfere with sleep.

This disorder is sometimes associated with a related condition called periodic leg movements of sleep (PLMS). Interestingly, the symptoms are often treated with the same medications used for Parkinson's disease, although no relation between the two has been established.

Restless Leg Syndrome