Restless Legs

In Focus

That strange, crawly sensation in your leg at night isn’t a herd of bedbugs galloping across the covers. More likely, it’s Restless Leg Syndrome.

Restless Leg Syndrome and its next-of-kin, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, are frustrating problems that can be mildly aggravating or emotionally debilitating, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Restless Leg Syndrome itself affects between 5 and 15 percent of the population. The percentage increases in the elderly, and also if you have kidney problems or have a relative with the disorder. 

“The symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are a strange sensation in the limbs, a creepy, crawling sensation … that occurs usually later in the evening when laying down or sitting still,” said Dr. Gregory Holt, board certified clinical sleep specialist and owner/director of the Tallahassee Sleep Diagnostic Center.

Periodic Limb Movement disorder, on the other hand, can be described as a series of four or more leg or foot twitches spaced about 20 to 25 seconds apart. Why that happens is a mystery, Holt said.

“At times it could be related to iron deficiency, anemia, B-12 deficiency or kidney problems,” he said. “We always do blood work to see if there is a physical cause, but sometimes there’s no reason for it
to occur.”

Both conditions can keep you from getting a restful night’s sleep, but can be treated with medication, according to Holt. 

Holt said that RLS is diagnosed in a physician’s office but PLM disorder needs to be diagnosed in a sleep lab.

Categories: Special Section