Restless Leg Syndrome
December 26, 2019 | Abigail Mckay

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome, an uncomfortable condition, is defined as an awkward sensation causing frequent movement of the legs. It can often be quite unbearable, causing it to impact activities of daily living negatively. The exact causes remain unknown, but genetics, iron deficiency, peripheral neuropathy, and pregnancy seem to play a role in the disorder. While the syndrome does not cause or lead to the development of other severe medical conditions, it can still be greatly debilitating on its own.  


Symptoms of the syndrome include feeling sensations, such as throbbing, aching, itching, stinging, or crawling. The sensations in one or both legs cause a movement to occur, which can sometimes relieve the uncomfortable feeling. Symptoms are fluctuating, as they can come and go. The sensations generally develop during rest, after rest, or at night. When moving, the symptoms are extinguished or greatly diminished. Unlike many conditions that develop later in life, restless leg syndrome can begin in childhood. However, the condition generally worsens with age.

Risk Factors

As stated previously, deficiency anemia can play a role in restless leg syndrome. If there is a history of heavy menstrual cycles, kidney disease, or internal bleeding, like stomach ulcers, iron deficiency anemia may develop. If this is the case, people experiencing these conditions are at a higher risk of developing the syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy, another risk factor of restless leg syndrome, already causes strange sensations to occur in the arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy is commonly associated with diabetes, which means that diabetics could be at a higher risk for restless leg. Women are more likely to develop the condition, as well as those who have a genetic predisposition.


Restless leg syndrome can range from mild to severe. The adverse effects of the syndrome include insomnia and depression. Insomnia and depression can develop due to the lack of sleep caused by the syndrome. Also, people can experience depression from the hopelessness associated with a lack of control over their bodies. Treatment of the syndrome can reduce the risk of insomnia and depression. To receive a diagnosis, a doctor must review the symptoms. If other medical conditions have been ruled out, a diagnosis of restless leg syndrome can be made by the physician. There are a variety of medications that can be used to reduce leg restlessness, such as gabapentin, pregabalin, ropinirole, and pramipexole. Opioids and sedatives can also be used, but they will not target the underlying condition. Instead, they will cause drowsiness with the hope of getting a full night's sleep. Magnesium is also an over-the-counter treatment that can be tried before prescription medications. Some believe that magnesium deficiency can exacerbate restless leg syndrome. So, a magnesium supplement could be utilized as a holistic alternative. 

Recommended Packages

Abigail Mckay

Abigail has been a nurse for five years, and throughout her time as a nurse, she has worked in multiple medical-surgical units as well as spent time in the infusion therapy clinic and endoscopy lab. She is passionate about preventative medicine through patient education regarding nutrition and exercise. Due to her passion, Abigail has gone on to earn two certifications including a certification in medical-surgical nursing (CMSRN) and a certification in holistic nursing (HNB-BC), in hopes of being able to better serve her patients. Abigail earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA and now bettering patient education in the healthcare system through partnering with American TelePhysicians.