Do you or someone you know suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome? We treat RLS and other sleep-related movement disorders. Please let us help you sleep better.

Sleep Related Movement Disorders

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move your legs, often accompanied by strange and unpleasant feelings in your legs. Moving your legs relieves the urge and the unpleasant feelings.

People who have RLS describe the unpleasant feelings as creeping, crawling, pulling, itching, tingling, burning, aching, or electric shocks. Sometimes, these feelings also occur in the arms.

The urge to move and the unpleasant feelings happen when you’re resting and inactive. Thus, they tend to be worse in the evening and at night.

Overview

RLS can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. It may make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. This can make it hard to learn, work, and do other daily activities. Not getting enough sleep also can cause depression, mood swings, or other health problems.

Some diseases, conditions, and medicines may trigger RLS and the symptoms may start suddenly.

RLS symptoms often get worse over time. Treatments for RLS include lifestyle changes and medicines. Please see your sleep specialist for more information.

Causes

  • Iron deficiency or faulty use of iron by your body
  • Nerve damage
  • Medicines and substances

Risk Factors

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects 5–15 percent of Americans. It often runs in families and, while anyone can have it, it is more common in women than in men.

Signs and Symptoms

The four key signs of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are:

  • A strong urge to move your legs. When the disorder is severe, you also may have the urge to move your arms.
  • Symptoms that start or get worse when you’re inactive.
  • Relief from moving. Movement, especially walking, helps relieve the unpleasant feelings.
  • Symptoms that start or get worse in the evening or at night.

Diagnosis

Your sleep specialist will make the diagnosis based on the following:

  • Signs and symptoms
  • Medical and family histories
  • Physical exam
  • Diagnostic tests

Treatment

RLS can be treated. The goals of treatment are to:

  • Prevent or relieve symptoms.
  • Increase the amount of sleep you’re getting and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Treat or correct any underlying condition that may trigger or worsen RLS.

Mild cases of RLS often are treated with lifestyle changes and sometimes with periodic use of medicines. More severe RLS usually is treated with daily medicines.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is a sleep disorder where the patient moves limbs involuntarily during sleep and has symptoms or problems related to the movement.

PLMD should not be confused with restless legs syndrome (RLS.) RLS occurs while awake as well as when asleep, and when the person is awake, he moves his legs on his own in response to an uncomfortable feeling. PLMD on the other hand, is involuntary, and the patient is often totally unaware of these movements.

Symptoms

Patients with PLMD will complain of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS,) falling asleep during the day, trouble falling asleep at night, and difficulty staying asleep throughout the night.

Diagnosis

PLMD is diagnosed with the aid of a polysomnogram or a sleep study.

Prevalence

PLMD is estimated to occur in approximately 4% of adults (aged 15 and up) but is more common in the elderly, especially females, with up to 11% experiencing symptoms.

Treatment

PLMD is often treated with medication. Please see your sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment.

Bruxism

Bruxism is characterized by the grinding of the teeth during sleep and often includes the clenching of the jaw. It can even occur during short naps. Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders.

Most people are not aware of their bruxism. A sleeping partner or parent may notice the behavior first, although sufferers may notice pain symptoms without understanding the cause. Only an estimated 5% go on to develop symptoms, such as jaw pain and headaches, which require prompt treatment.

Symptoms

Patients may present with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Depression
  • Earache
  • Eating disorders
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Loose teeth
  • Tinnitus
  • Gum recession
  • Neck pain
  • Insomnia
  • Sore or painful jaw

Diagnosis and Treatment

Understanding the cause of bruxism is the first step to treatment. Bruxism associated with snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, and a sleep physician can determine that and provide treatment. If the cause is stress, he or she may suggest stress management or behavior therapy. In some cases, a dental appliance or mouthguard is recommended, and some patients need dental work to realign their teeth.