June 24, 2012
Understanding Restless Leg Syndrome
If you have had throbbing, pulling, sensations and other unpleasant sensations in the legs or a strange urge to move them altogether then you could be having restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS is a neurological disorder whose symptoms occur in the limbs especially the legs. It is characterized by a sort of twinkling or itching in the legs especially when relaxing at home. The odd feeling is relieved by movements like walking around or stretching the limbs. A lot of people with RLS have also been known to have trouble sleeping at night.
The definite cause of restless leg syndrome is relatively unknown. Research in the area is still ongoing but evidence points to genetics and can be traced to certain families. Lack of iron in the brain could also cause RLS. Some conditions have also been associated with the disorder although no evidence conclusively shows that they cause RLS. These factors include diabetes, kidney failure, smoking and pregnancy. Some drugs are also linked with restless leg syndrome and these include caffeine, alcohol and certain anti-depressants such as amitriptyline.
Diagnosis of RLS is also a difficult task since there is no medical test to determine if one has the condition. Diagnosis is done by looking at the patient’s symptoms and family history. Daytime sleepiness and medical usage could also guide the doctor to correctly identify one as having RLS. Blood tests as well as other medical tests are also carried out to rule out other possible conditions. Blood tests will also indicate deficiency of iron and vitamins. In many cases children with RLS are misdiagnosed as having growth pain or attention deficit disorder since children are unable to accurately describe symptoms.
Despite all the symptoms described caution is often advised when using medication for RLS. This is because there are many side effects and in some people the condition gets worse. Examples of these drugs include Narcotic pain relievers like Cannabis, anticonvulsants like Carbamazepine and Opioids.RLS symptoms are often treated by identifying related medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease. More effective methods to contain restless leg syndrome may pertain to lifestyle changes. Reducing intake of alcohol and smoking as well as taking supplements to address iron deficiency helps a lot. Maintaining a regular sleeping pattern, a moderate exercise regime and massaging the legs also aids treatment of the symptoms.
Sometimes though the condition cannot be cured and people have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Symptoms deteriorate with age and the situation is made worse when accompanied by a related disease. In such cases though therapy is used to control the symptoms of RLS and will ensure good spells of restful sleep.