What is Restless Legs Syndrome ? How Is It Treated ?

What is Restless Leg Syndrome? Why It Happens, How Is It Treated ?
What is Restless Leg Syndrome ? Why It Happens, How Is It Treated ?


What is Restless Leg Syndrome? What is Causes Restless Leg Syndrome ?How to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome ? 

A feeling of discomfort in the legs and a strong urge to move the legs are typical symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS for short). Symptoms occur only at rest, especially in the evening and at night. They can cause significant sleep disturbances.

at a glance;

  • People with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) experience an uncomfortable tingling or pulling sensation in their legs and an irresistible urge to move their legs.
  • Discomfort occurs only when you are resting and subsides when you move your legs. Symptoms are very severe in the evening and at night.
  • RLS can occur without any identifiable cause, or it can occur in conjunction with pregnancy, iron deficiency, or certain diseases.
  • There are some measures that can alleviate symptoms. For example, getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine and alcohol helps some people.

Note: The information in this article is not a substitute for a doctor's visit and is not intended and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome ?

People with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) feel an uncomfortable tingling or pulling in their legs. They also have an urgent need to move their legs. Discomfort occurs only when you are resting and will subside, at least temporarily, when you move your legs.

RLS is often accompanied by involuntary, jerky leg movements during sleep.

A distinction is made between primary and secondary restless legs syndrome. In the primary form, the cause is unknown,there may be a genetic predisposition. The secondary form occurs in connection with certain conditions or diseases, for example, pregnancy or iron deficiency.

Doctors also refer to RLS as Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome ?

People with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) experience discomfort in their legs and have a strong urge to move. They describe this sensation as tingling, tightness, or deep pulling in the legs. Usually there is no pain and the skin is not sensitive to the touch.

Symptoms occur only at rest. Walking or other leg movements temporarily improve them. Rubbing or massage also relieves symptoms. The discomfort is strongest in the evening and at night and typically begins shortly after bedtime.

In people with severe RLS, symptoms occur earlier in the day when sitting or lying down, such as while reading a book or going to the movies. At night, the discomfort can be so unbearable that you feel like you need to get up to relax.

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome ?

The exact causes of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) are unknown. However, there is a genetic predisposition for "restless legs": In 40 to 60 percent of people with RLS, the syndrome runs in families. A genetic predisposition is likely to interact with other factors to trigger restless legs syndrome.

  • These factors include:
  • iron deficiency
  • some drugs
  • pregnancy
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Thyroid metabolism disorder
What is Restless Leg Syndrome ? Why It Happens, How Is It Treated ?

What exactly happens in the body with restless legs syndrome is still unclear. However, several changes in the nervous system that may be associated with the syndrome have been described in people with RLS.

These include iron deficiency and disruption of dopamine balance. Dopamine is a messenger substance of the nervous system and is known as the "happiness hormone". Dopamine not only promotes feelings of happiness but also regulates movement.

A circulatory disorder in the legs may also play a role in the development of restless legs syndrome.

What Factors Prepare for Restless Legs Syndrome ?

An important factor that increases the risk of restless legs syndrome (RLS) is iron deficiency. Low blood iron levels can be an indication of RLS.

Some medications also cause “restless legs.” This includes:

  • Antihistamines for allergy symptoms
  • some antidepressants used to treat depression, for example
  • Beta blockers: Medicines that lower blood pressure
  • Dopamine antagonists: drugs that interfere with nerve metabolism

It is best for people with restless legs syndrome to talk to their doctor about this.

RLS can also develop in conjunction with certain diseases: Between 25 and 50 percent of people with end-stage chronic kidney disease develop "restless legs." It is also seen in nerve and spinal cord diseases, multiple sclerosis and possibly Parkinson's disease.

Restless legs syndrome in children is often associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.

How common is restless legs syndrome ?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is common. It occurs in about 5 to 10 percent of adults and 2 to 4 percent of children and adolescents. However, it is estimated that only 2 to 3 percent of adults have moderate to severe symptoms.

RLS can occur at any age. However, it is more common in individuals aged 65 and over. It is about twice as common in women as in men. There is no difference in frequency between boys and girls in children.

Some women have "restless legs" during pregnancy – especially in the last third (third trimester) of pregnancy. After birth, the symptoms disappear again.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome ? Why It Happens, How Is It Treated ?


What is Restless Legs Syndrome ?

Primary Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) - the cause of this form is unknown - occurs before age 30. Often there is a history in the family. It typically develops slowly and reaches full expression between the ages of 40 and 60.

In about 70 percent of people with RLS, symptoms worsen over the years. In severe forms, additional symptoms appear in the arms, often years after the onset of leg problems.

One consequence of restless legs syndrome is trouble falling asleep and waking up at night. Sleep disorders can significantly impair quality of life and cause fatigue during the day. People with "restless legs" are also prone to high blood pressure and headaches.

How is Restless Legs Syndrome diagnosed ?

The doctor will ask about symptoms and previous illnesses and can diagnose restless legs syndrome (RLS) based on typical symptoms.

Physical examination is usually featureless. Additional tests are not required for diagnosis. However, because it is usually low in people with RLS, the doctor will take a blood sample to determine the iron level. If another condition is suspected to be causing the symptoms, further testing may be needed.

How is restless legs syndrome treated ?

There are several things you can do to relieve the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). In the case of the mildly pronounced "restless legs", massaging or moving the legs is enough to relieve the symptoms. If symptoms are severe, certain measures may help people with RLS need less medication.

Precautions include regular exercise and mental activity during rest periods, such as doing crossword puzzles. Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol also has a positive effect.

It's a good idea to check if the medications you're currently using are worsening the symptoms. In such a case, you can discuss with the doctor whether there are suitable alternatives.

Getting enough sleep is also important because lack of sleep can also increase symptoms. Especially in children with restless legs syndrome, parents should ensure that their children get regular and adequate sleep.

If the iron content in the blood is low, the doctor prescribes iron tablets. However, iron should not be taken without consulting a doctor to avoid overdose.

Medication may be helpful in more severe symptoms where these measures are not sufficient.

The following active ingredients are primarily used for drug treatment of RLS:

Dopamine agonists such as pramipexole, ropinirole or rotigotine: They mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain.

Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin or pregabalin: These are antispasmodic drugs that are also used in epilepsy.

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