Restless Legs Syndrome - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

By: Juliet Cohen

Restless legs syndrome is a poorly understood and often misdiagnosed disorder and is believed to be a neurological disorder. Restless legs syndrome is a common cause of painful legs. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias, the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. It is characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Patients with RLS may also experience sleep disturbances and periodic leg movements either during sleep or while awake. It usually makes you feel like getting up and moving around. When you do so, the unpleasant feeling of restless legs syndrome goes away. The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. People with RLS use words such as creeping, crawling, tingling, or burning to describe these feelings. Moving the legs eases the feelings, but only for a while. The unpleasant feelings may also occur in the arms. Restless leg syndrome usually begins slowly. Over time, the legs become more affected. Less frequently, restless leg syndrome can affect the arms.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed. Patients with RLS have an irresistible urge to move their legs, which is usually due to disagreeable sensations that are worse during periods of inactivity and often interfere with sleep. Restless legs syndrome may start at any age, including early childhood, and is a progressive disease for a certain percentage of sufferers, although it has been known for the symptoms to disappear permanently in some sufferers. Restless legs syndrome occurs in both genders, although the incidence may be slightly higher in women. It often affects members of the same family and recent research indicates that there may be an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. Symptoms get gradually worse over time in about two thirds of people with the condition and may be severe enough to be disabling. The symptoms are generally worse in the evening and night and less severe in the morning. A variety of different classes of drugs (eg. dopaminergic drugs, benzodiazepines, opiates, and anticonvulsants) are available for the management of idiopathic RLS.

Causes of Restless legs syndrome

The common causes and risk factor's of Restless legs syndrome include the following:

The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown in most patients.

Smoking.

A family history of Restless legs syndrome.

Iron deficiency.

Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and peripheral neuropathy.

Psychiatric factors, stress, and fatigue.

Certain medications-such as antinausea drugs, antiseizure drugs.

Symptoms of Restless legs syndrome

Some sign and symptoms related to Restless legs syndrome are as follows:

Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are very common.

Origination during inactivity.

An unpleasant feeling in the legs

Nighttime leg twitching.

Increased symptoms in the afternoon, evening and night.

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of the unpleasant feelings in the legs or arms.

Treatment of Restless legs syndrome

Here is list of the methods for treating Restless legs syndrome:

Narcotic medications can relieve mild to severe symptoms, but they may be addicting if used in too high doses.

Patients with prominent varicose veins in the legs may benefit from Ted hose.

Get some exercise every day.

Decreased use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may provide some relief.

You may benefit from physical therapy, such as stretching, hot or cold baths, whirlpool baths, hot or cold packs, limb massage, or vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes before bedtime.

Physicians also may suggest a variety of medications to treat RLS, including dopaminergics, benzodiazepines (central nervous system depressants), opioids, and anticonvulsants.

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