Font Size

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a condition caused by uncomfortable sensations that produce an intense, often irresistible urge to move. This can lead to sleep disturbance and severe fatigue that interferes with daily activities.

Restless legs syndrome is felt most often in the legs. But it can affect the arms, the torso, or a phantom limb. These sensations are described as "pins and needles," prickling, creeping, crawling, tingling, and sometimes painful. They most often occur in the evening when the person is attempting to relax or sleep. Moving can temporarily relieve these sensations.

The cause of this syndrome is often not known. Certain drugs (such as antidepressants), pregnancy, or iron deficiency or related anemia can trigger it.

Restless legs syndrome can be treated with drugs such as those that increase the brain chemical dopamine (levodopa or dopamine agonists), pain medicines (opioids), or anticonvulsants (gabapentin) to control leg movements and assist with sleep.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerColin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last RevisedMarch 10, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary