Restless Legs Syndrome
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome, RLS is a sleep disorder that causes an irresistible urge to intensely shake the legs or even arms. It is also called Willis-Ekbom disease. It is accompanied by other sensations like pulling, tugging, itching, burning, throbbing, or creeping in the arms or limbs. These sensations happen when sitting for a long time or while sleeping. Since it happens mostly in the evening it results in difficulty falling asleep at night. RLS may be mild or severe and depends on the symptoms, frequency, and the disturbances it causes to the person suffering from it.
Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms
The most prominent and common RLS symptom is the need to move the legs while sitting or sleeping. Other symptoms of this condition are:
- Sensations like crawling, pulling, or tingling in the legs or arms.
- It can start in one leg and as the symptoms progress, it can happen to the other leg too.
- If the sensation is mild then it may not happen every night, but only when the person is stressed or nervous about something.
- Severe cases of this condition can make even simple activities like a plane ride difficult.
- Trouble falling asleep or completing the full quota of sleep as the symptoms get worse at night.
- Fatigue in the morning.
- Sleepiness or feeling drowsy in the daytime.
- Tossing and turning frequently in bed which further leads to sleeplessness.
Who is at Risk?
Some of the factors put some people at a higher risk than others. They are:
- Women suffer more due to RLS than men.
- People in their middle-age are more prone to RLS though it can happen at any age.
- People with a family history of this condition are more likely to have it than those whose family does not have.
- Pregnant women develop this, especially in the last trimester.
- People who take certain medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, etc can trigger RLS.
- People of the North European descent commonly have RLS
- People with chronic diseases like diabetes, kidney issues, etc are at a risk.
Restless Legs Syndrome Causes
The cause of RLS is still not clearly known, it has been found that many genetic and environmental factors can trigger it:
- RLS is found in children who have been passed on this condition by one of the parents or a relative. Those with genetic links develop it before the middle age.
- Medical problems like iron deficiency, Uremia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Hypothyroidism, Fibromyalgia, and diabetes can cause RLS.
- Pregnancy can cause RLS in women especially in the third trimester.
- Consumption of caffeine or alcohol can trigger or increase the symptoms.
- Stress, lack of exercise, and obesity can also cause RLS.
How is Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosed?
Strange sensation in legs is usually accompanied by sleep problems. Contact a restless legs syndrome doctor if you are sleeping poorly and also have unusual sensations. As part of the restless legs syndrome diagnosis, the doctor will learn about family history, medical problems, medications, and lifestyle to look for underlying problems. No lab test can prove you have RLS. It is harder to come to a diagnosis in children as they are unable to explain symptoms. But certain tests can be conducted on kids and adults to confirm the diagnosis:
- Blood tests can help in determining the blood cell count, hemoglobin, thyroid levels, and basic organ functions.
- Electromyography and nerve condition studies are done to check for nerve problems.
- Polysomnography also called sleep testing can help in diagnosing sleep disturbances and limb movements.
How is Restless Leg Syndrome Treated?
There is no restless legs syndrome treatment as such but there are treatments to relieve the symptoms. It includes:
- Avoiding certain food substances that can trigger symptoms like alcohol, nicotine, caffeine.
- If the restless legs syndrome test shows that RLS is due to anemia, iron supplements are provided.
- Consult a neurologist for RLS treatment and to determine if the drugs are causing this problem or any underlying condition is causing it.
- Physical therapy and self-care treatments are suggested.
- Medicine for restless legs syndrome is prescribed if the condition is severe or frequent to relieve symptoms.
The symptoms usually disappear if the underlying cause is treated. Contact our specialists at Cure.fit, to determine the reason for RLS and get appropriate treatment. They are available online through video consultations, so make the best use of their expertise and get a restless legs syndrome cure.
How can Restless Leg Syndrome be Prevented?
Here are some of the tips for preventing restless leg syndrome:
- Get all your medications reviewed from your doctor
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol and caffeine.
- Take a warm bath and massage your legs before bed.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal before bed
- Follow proper sleep hygiene
- Exercise daily and include leg stretching exercises every morning and night.
- Ensure that the iron levels in the blood are optimal and so is the functioning of the organs of the body as it can cause RLS symptoms.
- Avoid taking naps in the daytime as that helps in sleeping better at night.