Restless Legs

I just had a discussion with a friend about restless leg syndrome (or something like it) being brought on by sleeping pills. We’ve all (maybe) had that feeling when you’re drowsing off, not quite asleep, and you get jolted by some dream-motivated movement, even though you weren’t quite dreaming yet.

I’m aware that this isn’t the strict clinical symptomology of restless leg syndrome, but it’s pretty similar, and something we’re more likely to have experienced. Talking about it made me realize that there are a lot of other potential “leg syndromes,” each with their own set of symptoms, that might be usefully labeled and brought in to the light of day, if not the light of modern pharmacology. I offer this list as a starting point, and welcome your non-R-rated contributions.

  • Irritable leg syndrome: while sleeping, your leg will, of its own accord, haul off and kick the person who has been irritating you. You may or may not be consciously aware of said irritation – the continual kicking may, in fact, be what brings this subconscious feeling to your attention. Repeated occurrences should be viewed as a warning that the end of a relationship may be approaching (if for no other reason than that your partner may not enjoy being kicked into awakeness every time you fall asleep, whatever your protestations of innocence).
  • Stealth leg syndrome: One or the other of your legs will, without conscious control, end up somewhere other than where you thought it would be, without your noticing it has gone. This usually happens while you are in motion, resulting in your falling down/up the stairs, falling on your face, falling on your butt; generally, falling. It’s not easy when you go to step onto a leg only to find out it’s now behind you.
  • Hollow leg syndrome: Big eaters and drinkers of the world are familiar with this one. It’s what allows you to put away that additional couple of pounds of food or liters of liquid without apparent effects. This syndrome can mistakenly be diagnosed as a fast metabolism, so be on the lookout.
  • Bashful leg syndrome: In a standing position, this manifests itself when one leg hides behind the other, without your conscious control. Typically, it is the same leg that does the hiding. This can also be seen in the bedroom, where one leg slings itself off the side of the bed, and remains “hidden” there. This may or may not be the same leg that is bashful in public.
  • Jittery leg syndrome: You know, the one that never stops bouncing, kicking, tapping, moving, etc. On yourself, usually not noticed. On others, potentially a cause of irritable leg syndrome.
  • Cold leg syndrome: Can be merely a matter of general body temperature, with some people being generally warmer than others. People with this syndrome, though, often have one leg that is markedly colder than the other. The leg will feel colder to the sufferer, and also to other people.
  • Friendly leg syndrome: The one that ends up pressed against someone else’s leg with no conscious thought on your part. Often happens while sleeping, which, when combined with cold leg syndrome, could almost be considered assault. When not sleeping, and when exhibited against a stranger and observed by one’s partner, another possible cause for irritable leg syndrome.

I’m not at all sure that this list is exhaustive. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.