Restless leg syndrome affects about 10% of the population yearly. Restless leg syndrome is comparable to ADD that is only in the legs. It is a very interesting condition in that it gives you the urge to move your legs. It is a neurological disorder but surprisingly it falls under the category of sleep disorders. It falls under this category because symptoms become more intense in the evening; therefore, having a major impact on your sleep. When your legs feel restless, you cannot relax and lay down. For many people this is frustrating, but there is treatment available not only to help your restless legs but also to help you get to sleep.
We have all experience restlessness. We are just moving around and feel like we cannot sit down and be still. The majority of restlessness is a result of anxiety or stress and sometimes a way that people handle grief. Imagine feeling restless all the time, but instead of your whole body, it is just in your legs. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is just that. For some reason, your legs feel the urge to move around and go non-stop. At the end of the day, you try to wind down so you can go to sleep. It is not good to get all aroused and hyper right before bed, or you may not be able to go to sleep. When your legs are restless, you cannot rest and may be up all night.
Restless leg syndrome is a result of a malfunction in the part of the nervous system that controls your legs. Your brain does not signal to the legs to calm down. The legs get signals that cause hyperactivity. When you want to rest and lay down, the symptoms usually get worse, and your legs want to keep moving. There are genetic factors that may play a role in the condition. If you have family members with the disorder, you too are at a high risk. Age does not have a role in the condition. Anyone can get it, even children. No matter the age or sex, everyone is susceptible to the condition. Women may have a slightly higher risk of the disease because of pregnancy. Unfortunately, pregnancy causes RLS for some women during their last trimester. Certain chronic illnesses may also cause RLS. These illnesses include kidney failure, diabetes, and even iron anemia. Peripheral neuropathy is another condition that may cause RLS, but a lot of times peripheral neuropathy is associated with diabetes. RLS may also be a side effect of medication. Some medications such as cold and allergy meds as well as antidepressants can bring about RLS symptoms or make them worse.
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RLS begin with these sensations in the legs that cause an urge to move them. The sensations are not necessarily painful, but they are very uncomfortable. Sometimes the symptoms spread to the arms and other areas in the body. The legs may feel very itchy. Sometimes the legs feel like something is crawling up them. Other people may experience a pins and needles sensation. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Sleeping is a major issue because the discomfort keeps you awake. The pain also greatly increases during the night and when your legs are at rest. The inability to sleep causes other health problems. Sometimes you begin to suffer from heart problems; you cannot function well at work because of fatigue.
Diagnosis and Treatment
RLS is commonly misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. It is sometimes hard to diagnose something that has no visible symptoms. A diagnosis cannot be made through X-ray or blood tests. More often than not a diagnosis is made after ruling everything else out; this means X-rays and blood test may be done just to make sure there are no breaks or nutrient deficits. The next step is talking about symptoms and family history. Once a diagnosis is made, it is time to figure out the best method of treatment.
Treatment is dependent on how severe the symptoms are. Mild symptoms can be treated easily with simple lifestyle changes. Exercises help a lot. Exercise will get your legs moving and help relieve the symptoms. It is also good to stay away from caffeine and alcohol. Both things can make RLS worse. Massages and hot baths are great too. It could be a good idea for you to get a massage monthly. Vibrating pads are also doing wonders to help your legs. It makes your legs feel like they are moving even though they are not. Although sleep is hard learning to wind down before laying down and practicing good habits before sleeping can help. When RLS is severe, these things may help a little but not nearly enough. The next step is medication. Dopamine drugs are typically the most effective because they affect the brain and change the amount of dopamine transmitted. There are other drugs like pain relievers that help too.
RLS is a common problem that affects many people all over the world. If you are suffering from RLS, you should speak with your physician about it. You do not have to continue living life in pain and discomfort. The biggest problem with RLS is the inability to sleep. It may not be a big deal at first, but it affects your quality of life. Don’t allow RLS to continue to ruin your life. Get the treatment and relief you need today.