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If you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), you are not alone. Up to 8% of the U.S. population may have this neurologic condition. Many people have a mild form of the disorder, but RLS severely affects the lives of millions of individuals. To determine whether you may have RLS, answer the following questions.

  1. When sitting or lying down, do you have unpleasant or creepy-crawly sensations in your legs (and sometimes in other parts of your body), tied to a strong feeling or urge to move?
  2. Do the sensations and urge to move come on during periods of rest or inactivity and are they relieved by movement?
  3. Do the sensations and urge to move bother you more in the evening and at night rather than during the day?
  4. Do you often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
  5. Does your bedpartner tell you that you jerk your legs (or your arms) when you are asleep; do you sometimes, have involuntary leg jerks when you are awake?
  6. Are you frequently tired or fatigued during the day?
  7. Do you have family members who experience these same sensations and urge to move?
  8. Have medical tests not revealed a cause for your sensations and urge to move?

If you have answered "yes" to more than half of these questions, you may have RLS. By arming yourself with information, you have taken the first step toward defeating RLS. Your optimum treatment plan requires a close interaction between you and your healthcare provider. Choosing a healthy lifestyle, eliminating symptom-producing substances, taking vitamin and mineral supplements as necessary, and engaging in self-directed activities will all work toward reducing or eliminating the need for pharmacologic intervention.

If you do need medications, careful trials are typically necessary to find the best medication and the best dosage for you. Many patients report that a combination of medications works best, and some find that a medication that has worked for an extended period of time suddenly becomes ineffective and another medication must be substituted. Quite clearly, you must be cautious when combining a variety of medications and should only do so under the supervision of your healthcare provider.

Because no single treatment for RLS is entirely effective for everyone, continued research is of vital importance. Until we find the cause of RLS and a cure, working closely with your healthcare provider, interacting with a local support group, and exploring non-drug treatments as well as pharmacologic therapy will help you find the answer to living a happy productive life in spite of having RLS.

  What is RLS?  
  How Common Is It?  
  What Causes It?  
  How Is RLS Treated?  
  Living With RLS  

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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12