Conditions that Mimic Restless Leg Syndrome

conditions that mimic res

According to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, the following conditions and/or symptoms are similar to those experienced by patients with RLS:

Night time leg cramps.
The RLS Foundation says that nocturnal cramping are quite common; however they are usually not symptomatic of RLS. Because nighttime cramps can be extremely painful they often cause the sufferer to get out of bed during the night. This type of cramping affects the calf or soles of the feet. These cramps are also called charley horses and usually are short lived, lasting from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. You may suffer from these cramps regularly or only after strenuous activity. Either way, they are not indicative of Restless Legs Syndrome.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
ADHD has a strong link to RLS in children. As many as 1/4 of the kids who have ADHD may also suffer from sleep apnea, RLS, and some periodic limb movements. RLS and ADHD have many commonalities including poor sleep, the need to get up suddenly and walk around, and twitching.

Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety Disorders can cause you to move or pace around, much as you would if you suffer from RLS. During the night, anxiety often causes restlessness and agitation. Anxiety can cause restlessness and agitation at night.

Peripheral Neuropathies
Peripheral neuropathies are disorders of the nerves that can cause burning, tingling and shooting sensations in the limbs. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of peripheral neuropathy. Other causes include alcoholism, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, amyloidosis and HIV infection. Kidney failure and some vitamin deficiencies can also cause peripheral neuropathies. In contrast to RLS, peripheral neuropathies don’t cause restlessness, and moving around does not relieve the symptoms.

Akathisia is another condition that mimics RLS; it is defined as a state of restlessness or agitation. Drugs used to treat several psychoses, including schizophrenia can cause this condition. Anti-nausea drugs have also been known to cause Akathisia. Withdrawal from drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease can also cause this condition.

Meralgia Paresthetica
Meralgia Paresthetica, a rare nerve disorder causes sufferers to feel numbness, pain, burning and tingling. These sensations are usually relegated to the front and side of the thigh and on one side of the body only. This disorder generally strikes people between the ages of 30 and 60, but has been known to affect individuals of all ages.

If you have some of the symptoms listed, it is possible that you are suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome. In order to help your healthcare provider make an accurate diagnosis, it’s a good idea to list all your symptoms and note at what time of the day they occur. This recorded history will help your provider make an accurate diagnosis.

University of Maryland Medical Center: Restless Legs Syndrome and Related Disorders

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