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RLS (restless legs syndrome) is a neurological disorder in which a person has uncomfortable feelings in the legs. In an effort to relieve these feelings, most people with the condition will have an almost uncontrollable urge to move during inactivity. Although it can begin at any age, most people who are severely affected are middle-aged or older. Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms or addressing the underlying condition.

What Is RLS?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an almost uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings.

Who Does RLS Affect?

Some researchers estimate that RLS affects as many as 12 million Americans. However, other researchers believe that the number of people affected is much greater because RLS can be easily confused with other conditions. Therefore, the condition is under-diagnosed and, in some cases, misdiagnosed. Some people with RLS do not seek medical attention because they believe that they will not be taken seriously, that their symptoms are too mild, or that their condition is not treatable. And, in some cases, doctors wrongly attribute the symptoms of RLS to nervousness, insomnia, stress, arthritis, muscle cramps, or aging.
RLS occurs in both genders, although the incidence may be slightly higher in women. Although the syndrome may begin at any age, even as early as infancy, most people who are severely affected are middle-aged or older.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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