The symptoms of RLS can range from mildly annoying to severely disabling. You may experience the symptoms only once in a while, such as when you’re under a lot of stress, or they may plague you every night. In severe cases of RLS, you may experience symptoms in your arms as well as your legs. RLS causes a severe need to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable, unpleasant sensations in the legs.
The signs vary, ranging from “painful” to “burning” – some people say it feels like they have insects inside their legs or arms. Sometimes the need to move is present without the uncomfortable sensations and sometimes the arms or other body parts are involved in addition to the legs.
The need to move and unpleasant sensations are exclusively present or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying or sitting. The need to move and unpleasant sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement such as walking or stretching at least as long as the activity continues. The need to move and unpleasant sensations are generally worse or exclusively occur in the evening or night.
Not only are the signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome different from person to person, but they can be tricky to describe. Common descriptions include: a “creepy-crawly” feeling, tingling, itching, prickling, burning, pulling, tugging, and aching. Some have said it feels as if bugs are crawling up their legs, a fizzy soda is bubbling through their veins, or they have a “deep bone itch.” Sometimes the symptoms are painful, but most often they are simply uncomfortable and disturbing.