March 30, 2021/Sleep

Can Restless Legs Syndrome Affect Other Parts of Your Body?

The short answer from a sleep expert

Restless leg syndrome

Q: Can restless legs syndrome affect other parts of your body like your arms?

A: Typically, restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects one leg or both legs. But sometimes it can affect other areas of the body, such as the arms and torso. When this happens, it’s usually a sign that the condition is worsening.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

With RLS, the areas of the brain and the pathways that connect to those areas are mainly responsible for sensations in the legs. So it usually starts off in the legs, but in severe cases it may spread to other parts of the body.

Restless legs syndrome can also be associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). These movements can be seen in a sleep study with most patients with RLS, but PLMS can be seen in people who don’t have RLS and usually doesn’t affect sleep quality.

If you’re experiencing RLS, try developing a relaxing bedtime routine like taking a warm bath and reading a book outside of your bed. Light stretching and walking can also help relieve symptoms. Or try a weighted blanket, light massage or a warm or cold compress. And remember, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can all negatively affect RLS.

– Sleep expert, Andy Berkowski, MD.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Child in pjs sleeping in bed moving legs
May 22, 2024/Children's Health
How To Help Children With Restless Legs Syndrome

Regular exercise, an iron-rich diet, adequate sleep and bedtime routines that include a warm bath or massage may help with your kid’s RLS

man in bathtub relaxing RLS
October 13, 2021/Sleep
The Best Home Remedies for Restless Legs Syndrome

Strategies for getting the sleep you need

A person in bed tangled up in the sheets
August 23, 2021/Heart Health
Is Restless Legs Syndrome Bad for Your Heart?

The short answer from an interventional cardiologist

Restless Leg Syndrome diet
August 29, 2019/Wellness
What to Eat If You Have Restless Legs Syndrome

How a few easy diet changes could mean a better night's sleep

Person in bed experiencing nightmares
May 22, 2024/Sleep
7 Reasons You’re Having Nightmares

Stress, alcohol, sleep apnea and (you guessed it!) scary movies are a few common causes of bad dreams

Person sitting in chair writing in tablet
May 21, 2024/Sleep
Should You Be Keeping a Dream Journal?

Recording your dreams may help you become more mindful, understand your thought patterns, process your emotions and even reduce your stress

Person sitting in bed in the evening, reading a book, with cup of tea on bedside table
May 15, 2024/Sleep
Restless? Try These Bedtime Teas for Better Sleep

Chamomile, lavender and valerian root teas may offer a faster route to dreamland

Person asleep in bed, talking in their sleep
May 3, 2024/Sleep
Why Do People Talk in Their Sleep?

Many factors can contribute to sleep talking, like stress or anxiety, lack of or low-quality sleep, or even more serious sleep-related conditions

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad