Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Restless Leg SyndromeRestless Leg Syndrome or RLS is a condition in which sufferers feel a creepy, crawling, jittering, or jumping sensation in the legs, this sensation is often accompanied by an urge to move the legs.   Sometimes it is described as an aching, tingling sensation deep within the legs.  Up to 10% of the American population is affected by mild, moderate, or severe RLS.  It is slightly more common in women.  The severity of the condition increases with age.

Symptoms usually occur during periods of inactivity, commonly present in the evening or at night.  RLS can affect sleep patterns since the symptoms may keep you awake during the night.  RLS tends to run in families and is more common in elderly.  Overuse of caffeine or alcohol may make symptoms worse.  Iron deficiency, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, or kidney disease can contribute to RLS.

Almost 80% of RLS patients also suffer from PLMS

PLMS or Periodic Leg Movement Syndrome is a condition characterized by sudden leg jerking (usually occurring repeatedly every 10-40 seconds) during sleep.  These leg movements may awaken the patient and cause disturbed sleep.

Diagnosis for RLS is done by a thorough medical and family history intake as well as lab orders screening for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 or iron.

Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment

  • Medications may be prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • Some lifestyle adjustments may be beneficial in treating your symptoms: 
    • Eat a balanced diet.  Ensure you consume enough vitamins and minerals.  You may investigate with your doctor about the possibility of taking supplements.
    • Learn how to manage your stress level, try different techniques that work for you
    • Exercise regularly
    • Follow guidelines for proper sleep hygiene
    • Be advised that some medications, including over the counter or herbal medications, may worsen your RLS.  Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about any of the medications you are taking.
  • For immediate relief try different techniques to reduce your comfort: 
    • Walking or stretching
    • Massage sore muscles
    • Taking a hot or cold bath
    • Actively using your muscles in your legs
    • yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques

The information used to compile this article was resourced from the websites listed below.  For more information on this topic please reference these sources.

http://www.sleepfoundation.org

http://www.rls.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/life/restless_leg_syndrome_rls.htm