Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensation in the legs. It is an uncontrollable and often overwhelming urge to move your legs. It often occurs when individual is resting and may increase in severity during night. Moving legs relieves the discomfort. Lying down and relaxing will activate symptoms. Falling asleep and staying asleep is difficult to do. RLS may lead to exhaustion and fatigue and may affect every aspect of a persons life.
RLS impacts all ages as well as both men and women. Twice as many women may be impacted though. As one gets older the symptoms will be more frequent and last longer. RLS is classified as a movement disorder as those impacted are forced to move legs in order to relieve symptoms.
Individuals with RLS feel uncomfortable sensations in legs with sitting or lying down. The sensation is combined with an urge to move. The arms, trunk or head may be affected but the symptoms primarily occur in legs. Those with RLS may pace the floor, move legs while sitting and toss and turn in bed. Symptoms are worst at night and are primarily gone in early morning. Long car trips, sitting in a movie theater, long flights, being n a cast or relaxation exercises will all influence RLS.
Symptoms of RLS may vary from day to day as well as in severity and frequency. RLS may seem to go away for periods of time only to reoccur. Over time symptoms normally become more severe. The cause of RLS is normally unknown but may have a genetic component in families where RLS starts around 40. RLS is related to dysfunction or low iron in the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. RLS may be related to interruptions to brain such as:
RLS is treated by moving affected area or treating an associated medical condition. Diabetes and peripheral neuropathy both can cause RLS. Some individuals with mild to moderate symptoms can treat RLS by creating changes like decrease use of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Iron supplements and magnesium also help RLS. Creating a regular sleep pattern, exercise, massaging legs, taking a hot bath are also ways to help RLS.
Drugs that increase dopamine have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS. Side effects of these drugs are nausea , dizziness or worsened RLS symptoms. Gabapentin is a FDA regulated drug that helps with moderate to severe RLS. Dizziness, fatigue and sleepiness.
I was diagnosed with diabetes over 10 years ago. The day I heard those words I thought my life changed. My dad had diabetes and passed from complications at the age of 58. Neuropathy occurred in my legs about 8 years ago and I deal with numbness, burning, and pain in my legs and often in my hands as well. The pain occurs daytime and night and have led to symptoms of RLS. I am prescribed gabapentin about 2 years ago to help with pain and other symptoms. Thus far it is working and my story continues .....