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Restless Legs Syndrome

Disrupted Sleep with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Barefoot on Rocky Beach

Itching, gnawing, prickling, tugging — the sensations of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) can feel different to each person, but the end result is often the same: disrupted sleep. If you feel a powerful urge to move your legs while trying to sleep, you may have RLS, a disorder of the nervous system.

RLS can have several causes:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Genetics — RLS can run in families
  • Pregnancy
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications — some can cause or worsen RLS
  • An underlying condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease

Whatever the cause, MultiCare’s sleep medicine specialists partner with you to determine if you have RLS and form a treatment plan that will help you get relief and a good night’s rest.  

Symptoms

Affecting both adults and children, RLS can cause daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and irritability. The most common signs of RLS include:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Overwhelming desire to move legs when resting
  • Uncomfortable sensations in the legs (tingling, burning or cramping, for example)
  • An increase in intensity of sensations in the evening
  • Temporary relief from leg discomfort when moving or stretching

Treatment Options

If you suspect you have RLS, you may need to undergo a sleep study in one of MultiCare’s state-of-the-art sleep centers. Our specialists will review your study results and work with you to find the best course of treatment for you. Common treatment options include:

Iron Replacement Therapy: Increasing the body’s iron stores can relieve symptoms for some patients. Iron can be taken orally or in some cases delivered directly into the bloodstream through infusions. (Iron should only be taken under the supervision of your provider.)

Medications: Many medications are effective at controlling RLS symptoms, such as Mirapex (pramipexole) and Lyrica (pregabalin). Your sleep specialist will discuss these options with you. 

Lifestyle Changes: Some patients with mild cases of RLS can find relief through self-care practices, such as massaging the legs; applying hot or cold compresses; and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

The specific treatment or treatments recommended for you will depend on the cause and severity of your RLS, as well as your overall health.

See a Sleep Specialist

If you would like to be evaluated for a sleep concern, call to schedule an appointment with one of our locations. Note that some insurance policies require a doctor referral for our services. Check with your insurance before your appointment to verify your coverage.

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