Living with Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome has the characteristics of:

  • A strong urge to move your legs
  • Symptoms that worsen at night
  • Symptoms that get better with movement
  • Symptoms triggered by inactivity

People with this condition know the feeling you have the urge to get up and stretch your legs or when you’ve been sitting too long. Having Restless Legs Syndrome has an uncomfortable feeling in the legs that often describes as something is crawling under their skin. It happens when they are at rest, so people often find relief from movement or physical pressure on the legs.  

Staying active is usually a good thing, but the motivation to move goes to an unwelcome extreme for people with Restless Legs Syndrome. The condition causes pulling or throbbing sensations in the legs which can range from uncomfortable to agonizing. According to an expert, people with this condition feel they just absolutely have to move their legs. Their legs feel uncomfortable and painful unless they move them. In addition, if the condition is extreme, patients can be sitting and they have to keep moving their legs which could be disturbing to other people as well.

About 1 in 20 people globally have Restless Legs Syndrome which is about twice as common in women than in men. This condition tends to be more serious in the middle-aged and beyond.

Relieving the Discomfort of Restless Legs Syndrome

Activity relieves the discomfort that people with this condition feel, so they often keep their legs moving. They may flex their legs or toss and turn in bed. The need for movement can make it hard to stay asleep and fall asleep which leads to exhaustion. The irony of this condition is that the act of resting and relaxing activates the symptoms. These symptoms usually arise if you are inactive for long periods. It tends to get worse at night and be gone in the morning.

Once the condition appears, it generally doesn’t go away. Symptoms might lessen or disappear for days to months, but usually, return. Restless Legs Syndromemay affect one or both legs as well as torso or arms.  

Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome According to Research

The cause of this condition according to research shows that affected people often have not enough or malfunctioning iron in the brain. Also, there are some problems with the dopamine system and patients often have a good response to dopamine medication. Imaging studies show that people with Restless Legs Syndromehave irregularities in the movement-related brain region where dopamine is active.The condition tends to run in families, genes likely play a role. Learning more about the underlying genes may lead to improved treatment in the future.  

Recommended Treatments

Even though there’s no cure for Restless Legs Syndrome, lifestyle changes and medications help lessen symptoms and increase restful sleep. Your doctor may recommend medications to boost your dopamine levels and other medications to address your symptoms. You can also cut back on tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. In general, it helps you to stay in good health and keep a good sleep habit. A combination of approaches can usually provide some relief.

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