Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS):
Restless legs syndrome is a disorder that is identified by a powerful and unexplained urge to shake or move the person’s legs.
The urge can be perceived in sensations such as tingling, aching, or pinching in the legs, which becomes instantly better upon moving the legs. It is a long-term disorder and, people usually feel the urge to move their legs when they are resting or while going to sleep, and this leads to various sleep problems.
This disorder is also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED) and, there are many different causes for it, but if the root cause can be cured or treated, this condition can treat.
Types of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS):
Early Onset Restless Legs Syndrome
This type of Restless Legs Syndrome is often hereditary and begins before the age of 45 and, the symptoms become more severe with time.
It is also known as Primary Restless Legs Syndrome or Primary RLS, and its cause is often unknown but, it can be genetic.
Late-Onset Restless Legs Syndrome
This type of Restless Legs Syndrome often occurs after the age of 45 and, the symptoms stay the same throughout the term of the condition. It is also termed as a Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome or Secondary RLS. The cause of this condition is often a disease or medical condition and at times can occur as a side-effect of certain medications and drugs.
Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome:
Most of the time, RLS occurs due to genetic factors, so if someone in the family has this condition, there is a risk for the biological family.
Conditions such as Hypothyroidism, Diabetes, Iron deficiency, Kidney disease, Dialysis, Fibromyalgia, Pregnancy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Peripheral neuropathy can also cause Restless Legs Syndrome.
There are some medications such as anti-depressants that have been also reported to induce this condition.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome:
Unexplained and Persistent Desire to Move or shake the Legs and Arms
A person may feel the sensations such as pulling, burning, tugging, or creeping in the legs and arms, which pass away only after the movement of side body organs.
When you are resting or trying to sleep, you may experience a burning or tugging sensation in your arms and legs. These may also make you get out of bed to walk around or move your legs, which can make falling asleep difficult.
Increase Irritability and Moodiness due to lack of deep and adequate amount of rest and sleep caused due to the urge to move legs and arms near bedtime or sleeping.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and lack of focus at work or school, which in turn can impact your performance in your job and your school performance.
If you experience these symptoms for a prolonged period or observe these symptoms in a child, then you should consider discussing with your doctor to rule out the risk of RLS. If someone is seeking treatment or any other condition or cause that may be behind these symptoms.
Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome:
If the cause of the Restless Legs Syndrome is rooted in a medical condition like iron deficiency, that can be cured or treated. These can be remedy with iron supplements or suitable dietary additions, and these can treat the symptoms that will pass away.
But if the root cause cannot be treated, certain medications are prescribed to people suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) to manage their symptoms better.
The medication is determined by your doctor after taking in factors such as age, current physical and mental health, and severity and duration of the condition.
This condition also brings in various other problems, such as daytime sleepiness and insomnia. In some cases, it disrupts your sleeping cycle so much that your doctor may prescribe medications such as Zopiclone to regulate your sleep.
Restless Legs Syndrome can treat, or at least the symptoms can be relieved or made less severe with the help of few lifestyle changes or additions.
A person who drinks a lot of alcoholic beverages or consumes tobacco products regularly will benefit by decreasing the amount constantly and, if possible, reducing the use of these substances.
While these substances are most harmful to our health, it is suggested that the intake is reduced gradually as the withdrawal symptoms after stopping the use of alcohol and tobacco products suddenly can also induce RLS.
Another lifestyle choice that can positively impact the treatment of the Restless Legs Syndrome is practicing proper sleep hygiene, which can be achieved easily.
Some principles of sleep hygiene include having a dark room for sleeping devoid of any stimulating light, a cooler room temperature to induce sleep as well as having a gap of at least 2 hours between the last meal of the day and sleeping time.
Sleep hygiene is mainly recommended to combat the sleeping difficulties that often come with Restless Legs Syndrome.
Who is At a Higher Risk of Having Restless Legs Syndrome?
The Restless Legs Syndrome is a condition that is easily found in blood relatives as it is genetic so if someone in your family suffers from this condition then it is likely that you may suffer from it too.
It can affect people of all ages and genders, but it has been found that women are more likely to suffer from RLS than men.
Diseases such as diabetes and iron deficiencies can also induce this condition which is a sure risk factor if you suffer from them.
How to Deal With Restless Leg Syndrome?
The instant thing to do if you feel a crawling or burning sensation in the legs (or arms) while you are resting or trying is to stretch or move them. These offer temporary relief, but it is immediate hence effective.
If your condition is severe, your doctor can help you with medications that help in managing the symptoms of the Restless Legs Syndrome better, and practicing sleep hygiene helps.