I am a 65-year-old woman. For the past two years, I have been having restless feelings in my legs when lying down in bed at night. My friend says I may have RLS. Is my friend correct?
It is appropriate to consider RLS when any person complains of restless feelings in the legs while lying down in bed at night. The diagnosis of RLS, as dis-cussed in How do Physicians Diagnose RLS, depends entirely on the patient’s symptoms. The characteristic feature is an urge to move the legs, most often as a result of disagreeable, uncomfortable feelings in the legs (occasionally, patients may not have these disagreeable feelings in the legs) when resting in bed or while relaxing in the evening.
If you have these symptoms only or predominantly in the evening, and moving the legs, rubbing the legs, or get-ting out of bed and walking around the bed relieves the symptoms at least temporarily, then your symptoms are highly suggestive of RLS. The symptoms may come as soon as you lie down in bed, so that you may have to get out of bed again and exercise the legs before coming back to bed. This may happen several times, disturbing your sleep and making it difficult for you to fall asleep. As a result you may have difficulty functioning in the daytime because of sleep deprivation.
In older patients, symptoms of RLS tend to be fairly rapidly progressive and may become worse within the next five years. Often, there is a comorbid condition or cause associated with the development of RLS (see Question 40). You should definitely consult a physician specializing in sleep medicine and particularly RLS for confirming the diagnosis. Effective treatment is available so that patients do not have to suffer from these uncomfortable feelings and having to move the legs at bedtime, disturbing their sleep for days, weeks, or months.