What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

What is Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is described as the creeping sensations in the legs, and is usually accompanied by an intense desire to move them. The symptoms are worse during rest, and often occur in the evening. The sensations may worsen as the night progresses, which is why patients suffering from this condition may experience difficulty getting a good night’s sleep.

RLS and PLMS

Periodic Limb Movements (PLM) and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) are distinct conditions, and may occur together and treated in the same manner. They typically affect the older adults, and may be associated with underlying conditions like kidney disease or diabetes. PLMS involves frequent rhythmic leg and feet movements during sleep, and people who suffer from it may feel tired due to the sleep disruption caused by it.

Who gets the Restless Leg Syndrome?

Nobody knows the exact cause of the RLS yet, but recent studies show that patients with this condition have issues with dopamine, a brain chemical, as well as a decline in iron level in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain that controls movements. Dopamine works by regulating the messages sent to the brain cells, and iron is crucial in the formation of L-dopa, which is dopamine’s precursor.

Do you have RLS?

RLS affects about five to 15 percent of the population. It is a chronic disorder that may start at any age, but the symptoms become more noticeable in the late 40s. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, then you may have RLS with or without PLM during sleep:

  • Irresistible urge to move the legs, with unpleasant sensations like creeping or tingling
  • The urge arises or worsens at rest, especially at night
  • Partial or complete relief with movement, like stretching or walking
  • Twitching or involuntary kicking in sleep

The condition is diagnosed based on these symptoms. Associated factors should be removed or treated in all patients as this may eliminate or reduce the symptoms.

RSL and sleep

RLS patients may experience varying levels of leg discomfort during the day. Some may even have experience issues with their focus and memory. Many of them, however, are affected most at bedtime as the urge and sensations worsen during inactivity.

Consequently, a lot of patients find it hard to sleep at night because of the worsening symptoms. It is not unusual for them to get up to move around until the symptoms disappear or are partially relieved.