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Restless Leg Syndrome

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The uncontrollable urge to move  body’s limbs that is, legs, and arms are a type of neurological disorder. This disorder is called as Wills-Ekbom disease or restless leg syndrome. Restless leg because it commonly affects legs more than the arms.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

The person suffering from this condition often complains of an aching pain or an itch, tickle in the muscles. This itch is something that one cannot itch and get relief from. This causes the person to move their limbs for relief and get rid of the discomfort. Restless leg syndrome can occur at any age. This restlessness usually occurs when the person tries to relax or sleep. Thus, making it very difficult to complete the night's sleep leading to daytime sleepiness.

Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome

It is very difficult to explain the signs and symptoms of restless leg syndrome. This is because the symptoms tend to vary individual to individual. Some may suffer from mild discomfort and some may severe restlessness that makes daily life difficult.

Symptoms include:

  • Tingling, burning, tugging or creeping sensation in the legs
  • Some may feel as if their bones itch and they cannot reach it to relieve themselves
  • Uncomfortable feeling that causes one to move their legs to get relief
  • Discomfort worsens when one tries to sit, relax or sleep
  • The symptoms tend to flare up at night
  • One feels better temporarily if they move or walk around
  • After one falls asleep they may suffer from repetitive cramping or twitching of the legs. This causes disruption of sleep.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

The exact cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown. This condition tends to run in families. The jerks or twitches experienced due to restlessness can occur even when the person falls asleep. However, the jerks are at times so forceful that it disrupts the sleep of the person. The exact cause of restless leg is still unknown. It is divided into primary and secondary restlessness based on the causes.

Primary Restless Leg Syndrome

This condition tends to be hereditary and affects the central nervous system. It is considered as an idiopathic condition as the exact cannot be pinpointed. It develops over time and is related to stress and fatigue.

Secondary Restless leg Syndrome

This condition is associated with an underlying health issue that leads to restlessness.

This may include:

  • Vitamin B12, iron, folate or magnesium deficiency
  • Kidney ailments
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pregnancy (temporary restless leg syndrome during the pregnancy term)
  • Use of certain medications like anti-psychotic medicines, antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, etc.
  • Excessive smoking and drinking alcohol

Diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome

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Restless leg syndrome has no specific diagnostic tests to confirm the condition. The condition is generally diagnosed based on the patient's symptoms, use of medications and getting information regarding any other health condition that may lead to this disorder.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

A mild case of restless leg syndrome does not call for any treatment. The secondary restless leg syndrome is kept under control by treating the underlying condition.

Other treatments include:

  • Giving iron and folate supplements to overcome iron deficiency and anemia.
  • Medications like dopamine agonists that help in controlling the symptoms.
  • Anti-epileptic drugs like Gabapentin, codeine (painkiller), hypnotic drugs that help treat disturbed sleep may be prescribed.

Other than medications, self-help care may also prove beneficial in case of restless leg syndrome.

These include:

  • Going for walks
  • Trying out stretching exercises
  • Massaging legs and arms
  • Keeping yourself busy by reading a book, watching television or playing games
  • Taking a hot or cold bath
  • Reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Exercising daily
  • Sleeping and waking up at the same time forming a pattern

Prognosis for rest less leg syndrome

This is a life long condition that has no permanent solution. As a person ages, the symptoms may worsen. However, many patients undergo periods of remission for days or even months. Modern treatment methods help a person sleep peacefully and control the discomfort caused by the syndrome.

As research is still being carried out, one can hope in future there is a permanent cure or treatment discovered that helps provide relief to sufferers of restless leg syndrome.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 25, 2015