Restless Legs Syndrome, or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, causes an individual to have irritating sensations in the limbs, primarily the legs, which are very distracting and uncomfortable, but usually not painful. Patients describe the sensations as having itchy, “creepy-crawly,” or twitchy legs. The condition creates a need for movement of the affected limb for temporary relief. Restless leg syndrome was described as early as the 16th century but was not studied until the 1940s. The exact cause of the problem is still unknown.RLS symptoms increase during times when a person is resting or sleeping. An RLS sufferer may be partially or fully aroused from sleep from 5 to 50 times per hour. Even if the individual is not awakened by the limb movements, this creates very unhealthy, disjointed sleep and leads to fatigue during waking hours.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
The main symptom of RLS is an uncomfortable sensation in the legs. However the sensation can also sometimes appear in the arms or trunk area. These sensations occur during periods of inactivity, such as resting, sitting quietly or attempting to fall asleep. They are temporarily relieved by movement of the limb. RLS an occur during the day, causing the individual to pace or move the legs excessively. It can also cause involuntary jerking or twitching of the limbs during sleep. Excessive daytime fatigue or sleepiness caused by sleep disturbances in the night
What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?
Currently, the cause for Restless Legs Syndrome is still unknown. However it is known to have a strong genetic link and to be present in people with other serious health problems, especially nerve damage disorders and poor circulation.
Who is Affected by RLS Symptoms?
- RLS is common in people over the age of 40 and Individuals who are under a great deal of stress.
- It is also common in people with anemia, or a low red blood cell count. Anemia is often caused by a low level of iron or folic acid in the diet. Pregnant women, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy have RLS.
- Certain diseases such as peripheral nerve disease (a disorder that affects the nerves that supply blood to the muscles and skin), and various other health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic renal failure, diabetes, and alcoholism. People with poor circulation who have Claudication (intermittent limping or leg pain that occurs when walking)will also suffer from RLS.
How is RLS Diagnosed?
It is important to rule out the possibility that the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome are not actually symptoms of a more serious problem like nighttime seizures or neurological disorders. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether uncomfortable limb sensations are caused by RLS, anemia, poor circulation, nerve damage, or another disorder. Doctors diagnose RLS by testing to preclude the existence of a more serious problem, studying family health history, and by conducting thorough physical examinations of the patient.
How is Restless Legs Syndrome Treated?
The treatment of RLS depends on what health problem is causing the condition. Doctors may suggest treatment involving change of diet, stress reduction, or medication, depending on the individual.
How Can You Get Relief from RLS?
Mild RLS sufferers may feel relief from their symptoms by:
- 1. Exercising more frequently, as moving the legs usually relieves the discomfort.
- 2. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, and essential vitamins.
- 3. Reducing the amount of stress in their lifestyle.
- 4. Popular relaxation methods include exercise, hobbies, yoga, biofeedback, and meditation.
- 5. Relieving physical symptoms using cold packs, massage, acupressure, stretching, or walking.
- 6. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine-containing items like coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate
- 7. Maintaining a healthy sleep routine – sleeping in a quiet, comfortable room, elevating the limbs with an adjustable mattress, and going to bed and waking at the same time each day.
This website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Classic Brands is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this website. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.