Restless leg syndrome ashansiam February 18, 2022

Restless legs syndrome?

  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable or irresistible urge to move your legs due to unpleasant sensations in the legs.
    • However sometimes the urge to move the legs can happen without the uncomfortable sensations, and sometimes the arms or other parts of the body can be involved as well.
  • This typically occurs in the evening or night, when you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Moving the limbs may partially or completely relieve the unpleasant sensations.
  • Mean age of onset is usually in the 3rd or 4th decade.
  • And this condition can lead to disruption of sleep and impairment of day today activities.
What are the symptoms of RLS? When should you be concerned?
  • Main symptom is an irresistible urge to move the legs.
  • Others include,
    • Abnormal, unpleasant sensations in both legs or feet.
    • These unpleasant sensations,
      • Mainly occur at night.
      • It typically begins with rest – for example when you sit down after a long day’s work.
      • Relieves with movement such as walking/stretching or shaking your legs.
    • These sensations are most commonly described as “restless,” “uncomfortable,” “need to stretch,” “urge to move,” and “legs want to move on their own” “painful” “numb” and “cold”.
What causes RLS and what are its risk factors?
  • Exact cause is unknown.
  • It’s believed to be caused by an imbalance of one of the chemicals in the brain called dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement.
  • It can be familial – this is associated with early onset RLS, which occurs before 45 years.
  • Increasing age – older people are more vulnerable.
  • Women are at a higher risk – twice as high in women than in men.
  • Some secondary causes include,
    • Pregnancy = the prevalence of RLS during pregnancy is two to three times greater than in the general population.
    • Iron deficiency.
    • Chronic RF.
    • Prolonged immobility.
What are the complications of RLS?
  • Sleep disturbances, fragmented sleep.
  • Impairment of day today activities.
  • Disrupt educational/occupational activities.
  • Increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders such as depression, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Increased risk of ADHD in children.
How is RLS treated?
  • Firstly, if there is an underlying cause we should treat it.
  • There are medications which maybe prescribed to you by your physician,
    • These medications will increase the dopamine levels in the brain.
    • Anticonvulsants such as Gabapentin.
    • Opioids.
    • Muscle relaxants.
  • Also there are lifestyle and home remedies that can be easily adopted, such as,
    • Baths and massages. Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can relax your muscles.
    • Apply warm or cool packs, which may reduce the unpleasant sensations.
    • Establish good sleep hygiene – Please watch our video on sleep hygiene for more information.
    • Exercise – moderate, regular exercise.
    • Avoid caffeine products.
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