Restless Leg Syndrome | RLS Symptoms and Treatment



What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (often called restless leg syndrome or RLS) is a disorder that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs, usually to alleviate unpleasant sensations.

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, RLS occurs when the legs are at rest and is typically most severe in the evening and night, potentially disrupting a person's sleep and affecting daily activities.

RLS Symptoms

People with RLS experience uncomfortable feelings in their legs while sitting or lying down.

These sensations are frequently described as:

  • Creeping or crawling
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Aching or throbbing
  • Bubbling
  • Pulling or tugging

The symptoms may also occur in other areas of the body, such as the arms and head, and are relieved — temporarily — during movement.

The four key points of RLS can be remembered by the mnemonicURGE:

Urge to move the legs

Rest-induced (worse during periods of inactivity)

Gets better with activity

Evening and night — urge to move increases in the evening or at night

More than 80 percent of people with RLS also have a condition called periodic limb movement of sleep, in which one or both legs jerk or twitch throughout the night, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

RLS Prevalence

Restless legs syndrome affects up to 10 percent of adults and up to 4 percent of children in the United States, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's Genetics Home Reference.

The prevalence of RLS across the globe is less clear.

A 2011 review in the journalSleep Medicinefound that the rate of RLS among adults ranged from 4 percent to 29 percent — with an average of 14.5 percent — across 16 North American and Western European countries.

But a 2012 review inSleep Medicine Reviewsfound that RLS affects 5 percent to 8.8 percent of adults in North American, European, and Asian countries.

At least half of these people have infrequent RLS or RLS with mild symptoms, the article notes.

Research also shows that RLS is about twice as common in women as in men, and grows more common with increasing age, at least in North America and Europe.

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome is classified as either primary or secondary.

Most of the time it's unknown what causes primary RLS, but the disorder tends to run in families, suggesting there's a genetic component to it.

Research also indicates that RLS is related to a dysfunction in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain control muscle movement.

For instance, studies have found a link between RLS and low levels of iron (such as in anemia), which is involved in the production of dopamine.

A dysfunction in the brain's basal ganglia circuits, which use dopamine, also appears to be associated with RLS.

Secondary RLS, on the other hand, is linked to other diseases or conditions, including:

Secondary RLS is sometimes a side effect of certain medications, such as those used to treat:

Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can also trigger RLS symptoms.

Restless Legs Syndrome and Pregnancy

RLS is common during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester.

The condition affects about 20 percent of pregnant women in Western countries, according to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation.

Importantly, RLS is sometimes difficult to diagnose in pregnant women because its symptoms are similar to sleep-disrupting leg cramps, which are also common during pregnancy.

In most pregnant women, RLS symptoms improve significantly or disappear altogether soon after giving birth.

Although usually temporary, RLS during pregnancy triples a woman's risk of developing chronic RLS.






Video: Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep - Diagnosis and Treatments

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Date: 30.11.2018, 02:44 / Views: 65134