Locations:
Search IconSearch
March 30, 2021/Living Healthy/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

Happy couple sleeping in bed together, holding hands
June 3, 2024/Sleep
The Scandinavian Sleep Method: A Surprisingly Simple Fix for Couples Struggling With Blanket-Hogging

Sleeping with separate blankets can help you get the ZZZs you need — without fighting for covers all night

Person sitting on bed in pjs with head in hand, eyes closed
May 29, 2024/Sleep
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Stress, weight gain and forgetfulness are just a few effects of losing 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

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad