Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Everything You Should Know About It

Do you often experience an irresistible urge to move your legs? If so, you may be suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition characterized by an unpleasant pins and needles sensation in the lower extremities. While the cause of RLS is not yet known, there are treatments available that can help lessen its symptoms. In this post, we’ll explore what RLS is, its possible causes, and the best ways to manage it. So if you’re feeling restless, keep reading!

Is restless legs syndrome (RLS) can be cured completely?

There is currently no cure for restless legs syndrome (RLS). However, there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms. Some of these treatments include medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy. If you have restless legs syndrome, it is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

restless legs syndrome
restless legs syndrome (rls): everything you should know about it 3

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a long-term condition that leads to an overpowering desire to move one’s legs. When standing or walking, you may feel a sensation in your legs that is usually unpleasant and improves somewhat as you move them. This is frequently referred to as throbbing, tingling, or crawling. Occasionally, the arms can be affected as well. 

Individuals who suffer from restless legs syndrome might have problems sleeping, which can be a major issue. Because these feelings frequently occur when you are resting and may make it hard to sleep, many people with RLS experience daytime drowsiness, lack of energy, irritability, and depression. Some people also experience limb twitching during sleep. RLS is not connected to regular foot tapping or leg swinging.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of restless legs syndrome can vary from person to person, but often include an urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort or pain.

Other possible symptoms include difficulty sleeping and feelings of anxiety or restlessness, which can make the condition very difficult to live with. While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for restless legs syndrome, treatments typically involve lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels and getting regular exercise, as well as medications such as dopaminergic drugs.

It’s a condition on the “spectrum” that affects some people only mildly, while others experience major sleep disruption and loss of quality of life.

Sensations—and the desire to exercise—could return immediately after stopping movement or at a later time. RLS can appear at any age, and for some people, it is a progressive illness that gets worse over time, while for others, the symptoms go away. It was discovered in a survey of members of the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation that up to 45% of patients had their first symptoms before the age of 20.

  • “A desire to walk, usually due to unpleasant feelings that primarily affect the legs but sometimes the arms or elsewhere.”

The symptoms are odd and unusual in comparison to other known sensations. People who suffer from RLS find it difficult to describe them using words or phrases such as unpleasant, painful, ” antsy,” electrical, crawling, itching, pins, and needles, tugging, wriggling, buzzing, and numbness. It’s similar to a limb falling asleep or an overactive sense of position awareness in the afflicted region. The feeling and desire can arise in any body part; the most common location is the legs, followed by the hands. Some people report little or no sensation, yet they have a powerful urge to move.

  • “Restless movements, which are the result of motor restlessness, relieve this itch to move.”

When it comes to pain, there are many sorts of relief accessible. The most typical technique to relieve pain is to walk; nevertheless, stretching, yoga, biking, and other physical activities can all aid in the process. Walking may cause feelings to come back. Moving the legs up and down quickly, or rapidly moving them toward and away from each other, might help to keep sensations at bay without having to walk. Personal movements are unique to each individual.

  • “Symptoms worsen as a result of relaxation.”

The discomfort, pain, and urge to move can be felt while sitting or resting (reading, airplane trip, TV). The degree of restfulness, duration of inactivity, and other factors influence severity.

  • “Variability throughout the day-night cycle, with symptoms worsening in the evening and early morning.”

Some people just have RLS at bedtime, while others experience it all day and night. The majority of patients report experiencing the worst symptoms in the evening and the least in the morning.

  • “The sensation of being unwell may be relieved by shaking your legs or arms.”

RLS symptoms such as the ones listed above can make sleeping difficult for many patients, and a recent poll revealed that RLS has significant daytime difficulties. These issues include being late for work, missing work, or events because of drowsiness. Patients with RLS reported being drowsy behind the wheel more frequently than people without RLS. Patients and society may be impacted by these day-to-day challenges, which can lead to safety concerns, social isolation, and financial constraints.

RLS may lead to an increased incidence of depressive and anxiety disorders in restless legs syndrome patients.

Causes:

The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by altered nerve transmitter dopamine usage in the brain, which causes an inappropriate use of iron. RLS may be caused by low iron (low overall body iron status) if it is not due to another condition. End-stage kidney disease and hemodialysis, folic acid deficiency, magnesium insufficiency, sleep apnea, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), Parkinson’s disease, and certain autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis are just a few of the additional circumstances that can occur. 

RLS can intensify during pregnancy, possibly owing to high estrogen levels. Alcohol, nicotine products, and caffeine might all contribute to RLS. In untreated patients, reduced leg oxygen levels were found to be strongly associated with the severity of restless legs syndrome symptoms.

RLS or periodic limb movement disorder has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in several studies. Both disorders are associated with dopamine neuromodulator system dysfunctions and are treated with drugs that affect dopamine levels in the brain. According to a 2005 study, up to 44% of persons with ADHD had comorbid RLS, and up to 26% of individuals with RLS had confirmed ADHD or symptoms of the disorder.

RLS is a common and often disabling neurologic disorder that appears to be hereditary and has an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. It affects more than 60% of persons with RLS, who have a familial background.

Both the dopaminergic system and iron insufficiency have been linked to the substantia nigra in research and brain autopsies. Iron is recognized to be a necessary cofactor for L-dopa, which is the precursor of dopamine.

Treatment:

There are a few different types of treatment for restless legs syndrome, including lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.

Lifestyle changes that can help treat restless legs syndrome include getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Medications that can be used to treat restless legs syndrome include dopaminergic drugs, iron supplements, and anticonvulsants.

Surgery may be an option for some people with severe cases of restless legs syndrome.

Last Updated on September 8, 2022 by William Lindberg

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