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An Overview of Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This is usually because of an uncomfortable or unpleasant sensation. Typically, it happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you are sitting or lying down. Movement eases the unpleasant feeling, but only temporarily. Leesburg, Virginia neurologist Dr. Sarbjot Dulai gives an overview of Restless Leg Syndrome including signs, symptoms, and treatment. 

Who Does Restless Leg Syndrome Affect?

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, Restless Leg Syndrome is more than just an impulse to move your legs. It is considered a neurological sensorimotor disorder rooted in the brain. It can begin at any age and worsens with age. According to the National Institutes of Health, Restless Leg Syndrome affects 5 to 10% of adults and 2 to 4% of children in the United States. It has also been found more prevalent in women than men. 

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

There is no known cause for Restless Leg Syndrome. Researchers suspect the condition may be caused by an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement. 

It is also classified as a sleep disorder, especially if left untreated, as it can be disabling and lower your quality of life. 

Signs and Symptoms

Although the chief symptom of Restless Leg Syndrome is the urge to move your legs, there are common accompanying characteristics. These include:

  • Sensations that begin after rest. These sensations typically begin after you have been lying down or sitting for an extended timeframe—such as in a car, plane, movie, etc.
  • The sensations of Restless Leg Syndrome lessen with movement, such as stretching, jiggling your legs, pacing, or walking. 
  • Worsening of symptoms in the evening. They typically occur mainly at night.
  • Nighttime leg twitching. Restless Leg Syndrome may be associated with another, more common condition called periodic limb movement of sleep, which causes your legs to actually twitch and kick. This can sometimes last all night, keeping you from sleeping. 

Although typically Restless leg syndrome symptoms generally affect the legs and feet on both sides, it can also sometimes cause the same unpleasant sensation in the arms. The symptoms or sensations—which generally occur within the limb, not on the skin itself— can be described as:

  • Crawling
  • Creeping
  • Pulling
  • Throbbing
  • Aching
  • Itching
  • Electric

The sensations felt by patients with Restless Leg Syndrome can sometimes be hard to describe, but typically it is not described as a muscle cramp or numbness. The most common described symptom is the need to constantly move their legs for relief. 

It is common to see symptoms fluctuate in severity. Sometimes, symptoms even disappear for periods of time, and then come back.  Due to the possibility of symptoms worsening to the point of incapacitating, it is important to seek help from Dulles neurology specialist, Dr. Dulai. With his vast experience, Dr. Dulai can conduct tests, neurologic exams, and get your detailed medical history to help rule out other possible causes and confirm that you have Restless Leg Syndrome. 


There is no one cure-all for Restless Leg Syndrome. However, by working with your doctor, you can create goals for your treatment, such as stabilizing your symptoms and improving your sleep consistency. There are both non-medicinal approaches and drug treatments available to manage Restless Leg Syndrome. Your neurologist in Leesburg, Dr. Dulai can help you come up with a treatment plan that will help control Restless Leg Syndrome by defining your triggers, pinpointing lifestyle changes you may need to make, as well as prescribing the right medications to help manage your condition. 

Make an Appointment with Neurology Associates Dr. Dulai Today!

Do not let Restless Leg Syndrome ruin your quality of life. If you suspect you or a loved one may be dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome, call Neurology Associates today at (703) 726-6393 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Dulai.