Have you ever been about to fall asleep when suddenly you have this unrelenting urge to move your legs? Maybe it has only happened once or twice, or maybe it is more chronic. One thing you do know is that the feeling is strange and you must move your legs. Getting up and moving around seems to help. Known as restless leg syndrome or Willis Ekbom disease, it can disrupt your sleep and cause other domino effects. Restless leg syndrome: what patients should know.
Causes And Known Facts About Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
There is no one cause determined for this syndrome. It is sometimes called a neurological (nervous system) disorder and other times a sleep disorder. It can be due to an imbalance in the brain chemical, dopamine.
What we do know:
- RLS can run in families. 92% of patients with RLS have a first degree relative who has it.
- It is more common in women.
- It occurs more in the evening.
- It becomes more common as we get older, although it has been known to affect children.
- There is no cure.
- Symptoms can be mild to intolerable.
The feeling in the legs is described as throbbing, pins and needles, aching, creeping, gnawing, and pulling sensations. Many patients find it difficult to explain. It can also occur in the arms, face, or trunk.
Some Accompanying Conditions And Possible Triggers
RLS seems to occur with patients who have an iron deficiency, Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, and damage to hands and feet from diabetes or alcoholism.
Taking antidepressants, allergy meds, anti-nausea, and anti-dizziness medications can trigger the syndrome. Talk with Annapolis Asthma, Pulmonary & Sleep Specialists about what other medications could be a trigger for you.
You should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco if you have restless leg syndrome.
At-Home Treatments For RLS
As mentioned previously, there is no cure, but you can attempt some at home treatments and lifestyle changes to reduce the symptoms and their frequency.
They include the following:
- Maintain a set sleep schedule
- Leg massages
- Take hot baths
- Use a heat pad or apply ice to your legs
- Reduce stress
- Regular exercise
Taking iron supplements, Vitamin B12 and magnesium may also help.
RLS is not life threatening, but it can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. It interferes with your quality of life and can result in depression and daytime drowsiness which can be dangerous.
If you suspect you have restless leg syndrome, and find out what else you can do to relieve the symptoms, contact Annapolis Asthma, Pulmonary & Sleep Specialists to meet with our sleep specialists. To schedule your consultation, please call (410) 266-1644 and schedule your visit at our sleep center in Annapolis, MD.