Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatments

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Synonyms : RLS, Ekbom Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a disorder in which the person has an uncontrollable urge to move the legs involuntarily . In general, this movement occurs especially when the person is sleeping, disturbing the quality of their sleep.

Causes for having RLS

It is not clear what causes restless legs syndrome, although some experts suspect that it is related to an imbalance of dopamine in the brain , which sends messages that control the body’s muscle movements.

The causes of restless legs syndrome are actually more related to risk factors.

Risk factors for restless leg syndrome

Among the risk factors for RLS, we have:

  • The genetic inheritance , in the case of having a family member who developed the SPI after 40 years.
  • Pregnancy , pregnant women often have the syndrome, which usually passes after giving birth.
  • The chronic diseases such as diabetes , kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease or peripheral neuropathy
  • Sleep deprivation or insomnia
  • Use of alcohol or caffeine
  • To smoke
  • Obesity
  • The use of some medications for psychiatric disorders
  • Anemia
  • Sedative withdrawal process

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome

The main symptom of RLS is the desire to keep these organs moving, symptoms generally include:

  • You begin to feel the need to move your legs when lying down or sitting with your legs straight
  • You lose this desire by doing any voluntary movement with your legs, such as lengthening, shaking, crossing or starting to walk
  • Symptoms usually worsen at night
  • You have seizures of periodic leg movements during sleep , another setting that causes the person to move their legs throughout the night while sleeping

In addition to these characteristics, people with RLS often also have strange sensations in the legs, feet, or even the sides of the body and arms , in some cases. The sensations are generally different from a cramp or numbness and are often characterized as:

  • Puncture
  • Shaking chills
  • Stitches
  • Heartbeat
  • Eforts
  • Burning
  • Itch

When to seek medical help from RLS

Many people live with RLS without knowing or paying attention to the problem, as it does not bother them. Ideally, seek medical help when RLS symptoms seem to disturb the quality of your sleep and the performance of daily tasks.

Who diagnoses it and what kind of questions will they ask you in the consultation if you have RLS

The experts who can diagnose RLS are:

  • General practitioner (family doctor)
  • Neurologist

Preparing for the consultation can facilitate the diagnosis and optimize time, in this way, arrive at the consultation with a little information:

  • list of all symptoms and the time they appear
  • Medical history, including other conditions you have and medications or supplements you take regularly
  • If possible, ask someone to accompany you

The doctor will likely ask a series of questions such as the following:

  • Do you feel an irresistible urge to move your legs?
  • What words would describe the sensations you have in your legs?
  • Do your symptoms start when you lie down or sit down?
  • Are your symptoms worse at night?
  • Does moving your legs help you feel better?
  • Have you been told that you move your legs or kick at night?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping?
  • Are you tired during the day?
  • Does anyone in your family have restless legs?
  • How much caffeine do you consume daily?

It is also important that you bring your written questions to the consultation, starting with the most important, this ensures that you get answers to all pertinent questions before the final consultation. For restless legs syndrome, some basic questions include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What are the possible causes?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What are the treatments available for this disease?
  • I have other health problems, how can I handle them all together?
  • What precautions can I take to improve RLS?

Feel free to ask other questions if they occur at the time of your consultation.

Diagnosis of restless legs syndrome (RLS)

The International Restless Legs Syndrome Group did a study that established the following diagnostic criteria for the problem:

  • Have a strong and sometimes irresistible desire to move the legs, usually accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation in these limbs
  • Symptoms start or get worse when you are resting, such as when sitting or lying down
  • Symptoms are partially or temporarily relieved by activities such as stretching or walking
  • Symptoms are worse at night
  • Symptoms that cannot be explained by any other physical or mental condition

The doctor will perform a physical exam and will need to order neurological tests to confirm the diagnosis of restless leg syndrome. Among them are electromyography , in which needles are placed into the problem muscle and works like an electrode, monitoring electrical activity during muscle contractions.

Another common test is nerve conduction velocity , with a weak electrical current used to stimulate the nerves and the time it takes for them to respond to this impulse is measured.

The tests should be ordered by the doctor to check for other possible causes of the problem, such as a blood test to check the levels of iron in the blood (which can lead to anemia).

If you also have symptoms of periodic leg movements during sleep, you may be referred to a sleep medicine specialist, who may order a polysomnography exam . With this, the patient is monitored during the night of sleep by a device that measures brain activity, heart rate, respiration, muscle activity and eye movements.

Illnesses with symptoms similar to RLS

Some illnesses can have symptoms that resemble restless legs syndrome, including:

  • Disease Parkinson
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle diseases
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Circulatory problems

Restless Legs Syndrome Treatments

Restless legs syndrome often resolves with treatment of the underlying disease that is causing the problem, such as anemia or neuropathy.

If there is no condition associated with restless legs syndrome, there are treatments focused on changing habits or medications.

Changes in habits as a treatment for RLS

Among the changes in habits that can mitigate or even resolve the symptoms of RLS, we find:

  • Hot baths and massages to relax the muscles
  • Treatment with heat and cold, to reduce the sensations in the legs
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to reduce stress , a problem that can aggravate the symptoms of RLS, so if you feel stressed do not miss this article: Are you stressed? Tips to improve it day by day !!!
  • The quality of sleep . Fatigue can make the symptoms of the syndrome worse. Read these tips to sleep better here
  • Regular , moderate exercise , which also involves stretching under the guidance of a fitness trainer, can improve symptoms
  • Reduction in caffeine consumption (coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolates)

Medicines to treat RLS

There are no medications made directly for the treatment of restless legs syndrome . However, some developed for other diseases have proven effective for the problem. Among them:

  • Drugs that increase dopamine in the brain
  • Medications that move into calcium channels
  • The opiates , which however can be addictive if used in large quantities
  • Benzodiazepines, a category that includes some muscle relaxants and sleeping pills

However, some medications that take effect at the beginning of treatment may become ineffective over time.

Many drugs used for restless legs syndrome are also contraindicated in pregnancy , in these cases, it is recommended to change habits to control the problem.

Using antidepressants and antipsychotics can make RLS symptoms worse , so if you use these medications, talk to your doctor.

Drugs for restless legs syndrome (RLS)

The most commonly used drugs for the treatment of restless legs syndrome are:

  • Clonazepam
  • Clopam
  • Rivotril

Only a doctor can tell you which is the most appropriate medicine for your case, as well as the correct dosage and duration of treatment. Always strictly follow your doctor’s instructions and never self-medicate. Do not stop taking the drug without consulting your doctor first and do not take it more times or in much larger amounts than prescribed. Follow the instructions on the leaflet.

Possible complications

Although RLS is a simple condition and often does not cause problems, more severe cases can lead to depression and disrupt the patient’s daily life. Also, people who develop the problem at night or have periodic leg movements during sleep may have problems such as insomnia.

 | Website

Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top