Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome is a disorder in which there is an urge or need to move the legs to stop unpleasant sensations. RLS occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults and stress makes it worse.
Symptoms – RLS leads to sensations in the lower legs between the knee and ankle. The feeling makes you uncomfortable unless you move your legs.
• Usually occur at night when you lie down, or sometimes during the day
when you sit for long periods of time
• May be described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing,
tingling, bubbling, or crawling
• May last for 1 hour or longer
• Sometimes also occur in the upper leg, feet, or arms
Restless leg syndrome can result in a decreased quality of sleep. This lack of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, anxiety or depression, and confusion or slowed thought processes.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) – PLMD is a sleep disorder where you move limbs involuntarily during sleep, and has symptoms or problems related to the movement. PLMD should not be confused with restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS occurs while awake as well as when asleep, and when awake, there is a voluntary response to an uncomfortable feeling in the legs. PLMD on the other hand is involuntary, and you often are unaware of these movements altogether.
Symptoms – Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), falling asleep during the day, trouble failing asleep at night, and difficulty staying asleep throughout the night. Patients also display involuntary limb movements that occur at periodic intervals anywhere form 20-40 seconds apart and they often only last the first half of the night during non-REM sleep stages. Movements do not occur during REM because of muscle atonia.
Diagnosis - PLMD is usually observed by a sleep partner before the patient is aware of the movements. PLMD is diagnosed with an overnight polysomnogram (PSG) sleep study.
Treatment - Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome may be treated with a combination of medication and behavioral modifications. Behavioral Modifications can consist of regular exercise such as walking, riding an exercise bicycle, or swimming may reduce or eliminate PLMS, particularly if Restless Legs Syndrome is part of the problem. Massaging the legs and soaking in a hot tub prior to bedtime may also help.