Restless Legs Syndrome

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which you might feel an uncontrollable urge to move your legs in order to calm the constant and unspecific sensation of discomfort that might be present. These events usually increase overnight and can lead to a real sleep problem.

Restless Legs Syndrome Signs & Symptoms

The main symptom of RLS is the uncontrollable urge to move your legs, which is described as an abnormal and unpleasant sensation over both legs that decrease after legs movement. Some other characteristics described along RLS include:

  • The urge of movement begins after being still for a while.
  • The symptoms usually occur during the night.

Restless Legs Syndrome Causes

Until now, there is not a clear cause of RLS. However, experts have established the theory that there might be a disbalance between the chemical brain dopamine and its muscle control. There are some well-known risk factors related to this condition, including:

  • RLS familiar history
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging
  • Female gender
  • Suffering from other medical conditions like kidney failure, iron deficiency, and peripheral neuropathy

Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosis

During your consult, your doctor will ask some question about the characteristics of your symptoms.  There are some established criteria originating from the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group and International Classification of Sleep Disorders, which include:

  • Having a strong and irresistible urge to move your legs
  • Symptoms start after rest
  • Symptoms are temporarily relieved by activity
  • Symptoms are worse during sleep
  • Symptoms cannot be explained by another medical condition

Additionally, your doctor will perform some routine tests in order to detect some other abnormalities.

Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment

Treating RLS could be complicated. However, sometimes there is an underlying condition causing RLS and if properly detected, treating it will improve your symptoms.

In case your condition is not associated with any other medical disorder, your doctor will suggest the following medication options:

  • Dopamine agonists. Which are drugs that increase the levels of dopamine in your brain, helping to reduce the RLS’s symptoms.
  • Antiepileptic medication.
  • Sleep pills. Including some benzodiazepines like clonazepam, which will help you sleep better during the night.

Sometimes, using a combination of medications might be necessary until you finally get some relief of your symptoms. It’s important for you to know that most of the medications to treat RLS have serious side effects that you need to discuss with your doctor.

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