Moderate restless legs syndrome (RLS)

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder which is marked by unpleasant sensations in the legs, or the urge to move them. It most commonly occurs in the evening or at night, when a person is resting or trying to fall asleep. Moving the legs relieves the sensations temporarily, but they come back as soon as the person stops moving.

Moderate RLS (MRLS) is a milder form of RLS which is often treated with lifestyle changes and medications. It usually gets worse as the person ages and can interfere with their quality of sleep. In people with MRLS, the symptoms tend to improve and worsen periodically, and tend to be worse later in the day.


The hallmark symptom of MRLS is the urge to move one’s legs, which is usually accompanied by:

  • Uncomfortable sensations or pain in the legs
  • An urge to move the legs when sitting or lying down
  • Difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep
  • Fatigue or tiredness during the day

Risk Factors

MRLS is more common in women than men and according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing MRLS, including:

  • Family history of RLS or MRLS
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes
  • Certain medications, such as antipsychotics
  • Being pregnant
  • Low levels of iron in the body


Treatment for Moderate RLS will depend on the individual’s symptoms and may include lifestyle changes, medications, or both. Common lifestyle changes for MRLS include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding or reducing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Doing relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation
  • Establishing a regular sleep pattern

Medications used to treat MRLS include:

  • Dopaminergic drugs, such as carbidopa-levodopa, ropinirole, and pramipexole
  • Benzodizapines, such as clonazepam and diazepam
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin and pregabalin
  • Muscle relaxers, such as cyclobenzaprine
  • Nefopam