Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) - Overview

Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as RLS is known to be a common reason for the occurrence of pain in the legs. With the syndrome, the motion in the legs is ceased to a great extent and therefore, the patient suffers from a pain in the legs during the early evening or late in the night.

RLS is also known as the shaking leg syndrome; because one of the major symptoms of the disease is the involuntary jerking of the legs during sleeping in the night time. RLS has also been known as the periodic leg movement disorder.

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

The major reason for the occurrence of Restless Leg Syndrome is not known.

However, some of the major reasons for the occurrence of RLS in people can be as follows:

  1.  Pregnancy
  2.  Obesity
  3.  Excessive Smoking
  4.  Deficiency of Iron or Anaemia
  5.  Nervous Disorders
  6.  Polyneuropathy
  7.  Hormonal Changes associated with Diabetes
  8.  Kidney Failure due to the decreased amounts of Vitamins and Minerals in the body

Some of the major drugs and medications which are known to cause RLS are as follows:

  1.  Increased Caffeine consumption
  2.  Increased consumption of Alcohol
  3.  Excessive Histamine H2 Blockers – These may consist of Zantac, Cimetidine, Tagamet or the intake of some antidepressants such as Amitriptyline

In some of the major cases, RLS is known to run within the families of patients.

Some of the latest studies have proved that RLS becomes very common as the person ages. Also, the poor circulations of the blood in the legs of the person are also known to be one of the major reasons for the occurrence of RLS.

Major Signs and Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome

Some of the major symptoms for RLS are as follows:

  1.        Pain in the legs
  2.        Muscular Cramps
  3.        Tingling sensation within the legs
  4.        Itchiness in the legs
  5.        Burning sensation in the legs
  6.        Aching in the legs

One of the major characteristics of RLS is the worsening of the symptoms during the night time which creates the condition of insomnia in the patients. Also, the RLS leads to the lack of sleep in patients; which leads them to the drowsiness and sluggishness leading to higher rate of irritability and aggressive behaviour throughout the day time.

RLS is known to start gradually in people and therefore, the legs of the afflicted person tend to become more affected.

Diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome

It has been pointed out that some basic criteria need to be followed in order to diagnose the disease in patients.

Some of the major criteria which are used for the diagnosis of RLS in patients is as follows:

  1. Strong Tendency to move the legs: in most of the patients, a strong urge to move their legs is seen. This is accompanied with an unpleasant feeling in the legs. In some of the severe cases, the patients have a great need to move the arms.
  2. Inactivity: Usually, the symptoms tend to become worse when the person is sitting in an inactive stage i.e. when the person is lying down or is sitting.
  3. Additional Relief on moving: The movement of the affected person, especially during the time of walking is known to relieve him from the unpleasant symptoms.
  4. Worsening of the symptoms during evening or night time

Often, some other diseases are known whose symptoms are known to mimic those of Restless Leg Syndrome. Some of the major diseases whose symptoms mimic that of RLS are as follows:

  1. Parkinson’s Disease
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Degeneration of the muscles
  4. Joint pains
  5. Nervous problems which can be associated with Diabetes

In case of children, RLS has often been misdiagnosed as growing pains.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

For the treatment of RLS it is very important to know the reason for the underlying illness behind it.

For example, some of the major treatment options which are used for RLS are as follows:

  1. Blood Testing is very important in order to check out the body for the underlying iron deficiency in the body, as anaemia could be one of the major reasons for the occurrence for RLS.
  2. In some cases when Varicose Veins are known to be the reason for RLS, then surgery can be opted in order to check out the body for the circulation.
  3. Reduction in the intake of caffeine and nicotine as well as decrease in the intake of alcohol is also known to be a very helpful way to remove the RLS.
  4. Preventing smoking is another helpful way to remove the symptoms of RLS.
  5. Better exercise and a good sleeping pattern are also known in order to decrease the symptoms of RLS in patients.

Medications and Drug Therapy to treat RLS

Some of the major medications which are used to treat RLS are as follows:

  1.    Intake of natural supplements such as iron
  2.    Carbidopa – levodopa such as Sinemet
  3.    Opiods
  4.    Carbamazepine such as Tegretol or Equetro
  5.    Clonazepam
  6.    Temazepam
  7.    Diazepam
  8.    Baclofen
  9.    Bromocriptine
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