Restless Leg Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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Restless leg syndrome is a disorder in which there is twitching and some kind of discomfort in either one or both the legs of the person mainly at night. It usually comes under the category of sleep disorders because it causes sleep disturbances in them and it also gets worse when you are at rest. It is one of the most common problems but people have not heard about it much. Because many have mild symptoms and they don’t interfere with normal life but some people may have severe symptoms that can interfere with normal life and cannot be cured without medication.

It is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease and can occur at any age and it gets worsen with age. Women are generally more prone to restless leg syndrome as compared to men. People who are in their middle ages are prone to have more severe symptoms. If it has mild symptoms, it is not recognizable even by the doctors. But when it is regular, it is easier to be recognized and when treated, it will be easier for you to live your life in a happy manner. It often occurs when a woman is pregnant and many women suffer from it after childbirth also.

Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome

The main symptom of restless leg syndrome is that you want to move your leg without any particular reason. You have a feeling in your legs like itching, pulling sensation, pain, etc which subside by movement. The sensation goes away with the movement. This can also happen in your hands, chest, arms, or head. One may have this feeling either on one side or both sides. And sometimes may start on one side and move to the other side.

Some common characteristics are:

  1. This sensation usually begins when a person is at rest or lying down in a resting position and that too for a long period of time. You may be sitting either in a car, in a plane, or maybe lying on your bed for a long period of time.
  2. The sensation usually goes away when you have a movement like shaking your leg or walking etc.
  3. The symptoms usually get worse at night or in the evening or when you are at rest.
  4. At night you may have periodic limb movement of your leg in which you may also kick your leg throughout the night when you are in sleep.

The sensations one may feel are:

  • Twitching
  • Crawling
  • Pulling
  • Throbbing
  • Aches
  • Feeling of electric current
  • Itching
  • Tingling

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

There are no such causes of restless leg syndrome but the researcher suspects that the condition may be caused by a brain chemical naming dopamine which sends sensation to the muscles.

Researchers have said that it may also be caused by a person’s heredity especially if it is caused before the age of 40.

It may also occur during pregnancy and may continue after childbirth also. The reason for this may be a deficiency of iron or maybe because of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Usually, it goes away after childbirth.

Risk Factors

It can develop at any age even at childhood but usually occur at an increasing age. Women are generally more prone to restless leg syndrome as compared to men. It may also be related to some underlying medical conditions. They may be:

  • There may be damage to nerves of hands and feet which may be due to some chronic diseases like alcoholism or diabetes.
  • Anemia or an iron deficiency in your body may worsen the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
  • If you have kidney failure there is iron deficiency. When the kidneys don’t work properly they can store iron in your body in your blood. This and some other chemical conditions may cause restless leg syndrome in your body.
  • If there is a lesion in your spinal cord because of some damage or injury, it may also cause you to have restless leg syndrome.

Treatment For Restless Leg Syndrome

Although there is no such treatment for restless leg syndrome. Sometimes it may be caused because of some iron deficiency and because of that, some iron supplements are given to the person. When there is no such cause for restless leg syndrome, it may be because of some lifestyle changes. For this doctor may prescribe some medications which can increase the amount of dopamine in your brain. Although these medications can increase the daytime sleepiness in the person.

Sometimes pain killers like ibuprofen are given which may help to relieve the mild symptoms in the person. To reduce the involuntary movements drugs that are used in Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy are given.

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