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Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common condition which causes an overbearing urge to move the legs. It can be disruptive to sleep and cause unpleasant sensations through the legs. Our pharmacy offers several treatments for this condition, and can deliver them directly to your door in discreet packaging.

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What Is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a nervous condition which causes an intensive urge to move the legs. Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, the condition can happen to anyone at any age, though it more likely to affect women and most commonly affects people before 40 years of age.

Pregnant women may experience RLS after 27 weeks of pregnancy until their child is born, though their symptoms may disappear within 4 weeks of giving birth.

Despite its name, RLS can affect other parts of the body including the arms and head. Commonly, moving the affected part of the body temporarily relieves the odd sensations RLS causes.

Restless leg syndrome is not a life-threatening condition and can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication. However, the symptoms can be very disruptive and affect sleep, making it harder to concentrate or stay alert the next day.

RLS can cause anxiety and depression, and can even affect relationships if you wake your partner up due to involuntary limb movements.

What are the symptoms of restless leg syndrome?

The symptoms of restless leg syndrome differ in frequency and severity between persons. Typically, the symptoms develop in the evening when you are trying to relax, making it difficult to people afflicted with the condition to get a good night’s rest.

Another key feature of restless leg syndrome is that the symptoms are non-existent in the morning for a lot of people with the condition, allowing for a short period of restful sleep during this time. However, it is possible symptoms to occur when just sat down and relaxing.

Symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS) include:

  • an unrelenting urge to move the legs
  • crawling or creeping sensation in legs and feet
  • itching in the legs
  • aching throbbing in the legs

The sensations of RLS are usually felt in both legs, however the feelings can alternative between each leg. In other cases, these sensations may only occur on one side of the body.

There may be periods of time when the symptoms appear to have disappeared, before they return a few weeks or months later. This may happen during the earlier stages of the condition.

A majority of people with RLS experience limb jerks while they are asleep. This is referred to as periodic limb movement syndrome (PLMS) and is a key indicator of the condition. According to the NHS, around 80% of people with restless leg syndrome also experience PLMS.

How is Restless Leg Syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose restless leg syndrome based on the symptoms you are experiencing.

During your appointment, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, when they develop, how long they last and other questions about your general health.

If you suspect you have restless leg syndrome, speak to your doctor first. The symptoms of restless leg syndrome are similar to other conditions which affect the nervous system. Your doctor can determine the cause of your symptoms and rule out any other conditions.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

It is not known what causes restless leg syndrome, in most people. When the cause is unknown, the condition is referred to as primary or idiopathic restless leg syndrome.

It is believed that the level of dopamine in the body may be to blame for the condition. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, produced in a part of the brain called basal ganglia, which helps to regulate muscle movement.

In the evening, dopamine levels typically taper off. This may be the reason why symptoms of restless leg syndrome develop in the evening.

Restless leg syndrome can be passed on in families, particularly when symptoms develop before the age of 40.

You may develop restless leg syndrome due to an underlying health condition, such as iron deficiency anaemia or kidney failure. In this instance, it is referred to as secondary restless leg syndrome. Treating the underlying condition can relieve the symptoms of secondary restless leg syndrome.

Women in the last 3 months of their pregnancy may experience restless leg syndrome, and disappears after the delivery of the child. It is currently unknown why this happens, though it is believed to affect 1 in 5 women on average.

RLS may arise from the use of certain medicines, including some antidepressants, antipsychotics and lithium.

It is important to discuss your condition with your doctor. They can discuss the possible causes with you and determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

How Is Restless Leg Syndrome Treated?

Depending on the severity and cause of your condition, there are a number of different treatments available for restless leg syndrome.

Lifestyle changes

In mild cases, where the cause of the condition is unknown, making lifestyle changes is usually sufficient to relieve the symptoms.

Some lifestyle changes which may help restless leg syndrome include:

You can use heat pads or have a warm bath to help sooth the sensations in your legs. Massaging the legs may also help to reduce symptoms.

Medications for restless leg syndrome

More severe symptoms of restless leg syndrome may need to be treated with medications, which affect the amount of iron and dopamine in your body.

If iron deficiency anaemia is believed to be the cause of your restless leg syndrome, taking an iron supplement can help to relieve your symptoms.

If no cause is determined, your doctor may prescribe a dopamine agonist.

Dopamine agonists, such as pramipexole or rotigotine, increase the amount of dopamine in the body. Due to the role dopamine plays on the movement of muscles, these medicines can reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

During a course of treatment with dopamine agonists, your doctor will need to adjust your dosage. You will begin treatment on a low dose. Over time, your doctor will increase the dosage until the right dosage is reached to control your symptoms.

You should always follow your doctor's prescription. If you wish to stop taking a dopamine agonist, your doctor will need to gradually taper your dose down until you can come off it completely. This helps to prevent dopamine agonist withdrawal symptoms (DAWS).

It is important to speak to your doctor before taking any medication for restless leg syndrome. Not only does your doctor need to diagnose the condition, but they are the best person to speak to in order to determine the safest treatment for you.

Buy Restless Leg Syndrome Treatments Online

With Prescription Doctor, you can get treatment for restless leg syndrome delivered straight to your door via a discreet next-day delivery.

Simply fill out our online medical form for our doctor to review. If our doctor approves your order before 3pm on a weekday, a prescription can be issued which our UK based pharmacy will dispense.

All items dispatched from our pharmacy are packaged in plain packaging to ensure your privacy. We offer a fast, next-day delivery service to ensure your medicines get to you as soon as possible.

Table of contents

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

How Is Restless Leg Syndrome Treated?

Buy Restless Leg Syndrome Treatments Online


NHS, 2018. Restless leg syndrome

Authored & Reviewed By


Adil Bhaloda

This content has been written and checked for quality and accuracy by Adil provides governance for the online services, overseeing prescription dispensation in line with UK pharmacy standards.

Published on: 30/04/2021 Reviewed on: 30/04/2021
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