Restless Leg Syndrome Myths and Facts

Mental Health & Sleep Center, Restless Leg Syndrome
on October 16, 2013
restless legs

1. RLS is all in your head. Experts note that people with restless leg syndrome are more likely to suffer from depression, panic disorder and anxiety than people with other chronic disorders. Indeed, RLS may be treated successfully with antidepressants. But RLS is a recognized sensorimotor and sleep disorder that may be related to brain chemical transmission issues.

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2. RLS is uncomfortable, but not serious. While it’s true that many people with RLS experience relatively mild symptoms, those with more severe symptoms can suffer greatly diminished quality of life, particularly due to the difficulty in getting sufficient sleep. And RLS can accompany other more serious conditions like diabetes, anemia, kidney failure and neuropathy, which can make coping with those conditions more difficult.

3. Only adults get restless legs. On the contrary, studies of children with sleep difficulty suggest that restless leg syndrome could be the culprit. The condition is often written off as “growing pains,” the presence of which is linked to a higher probability of developing RLS as an adult.

4. A good, hard workout will prevent RLS symptoms. Regular moderate exercise seems to ease RLS, but vigorous, intense workouts may do the opposite. Experts suggest that individuals experiment with different types of exercise at varying intensity to determine the best workout prescription for relief.

5. A heating pad or warm bath always helps with RLS. While it often helps diminish RLS sensations, heat sometimes intensifies RLS symptoms. Some people prefer cold compresses instead.

6. It’s best to resist the urge to move your legs if you have RLS. The Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation (Willis-Ekbom is the formal name for restless leg syndrome) suggests moving around and finding an activity to distract you. Fighting the urge only keeps you focused on your discomfort, which can intensify it.