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Restless Legs Syndrome 2

Posted Jan 17 2009 2:53am 2 Comments

Does Restless Legs Syndrome Disturb Your Sleep? sleep

Do you suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RSL)?  RLS is a strange condition, the cause isn’t completely certain and there is no real cure.  The only real hope for you if you have restless leg syndrome is that this is usually not a permanent problem.  It will afflict you for a while and then just as suddenly as it arrived it is gone

Restless Legs Syndrome causes uncomfortable feelings in the legs. These feelings intensify when lying down or when sitting. The only way you can make them go away is by getting up and moving around. Because of the need to move the condition interrupts sleep.  Restless legs syndrome is considered a sleeping disorder because of the constant disruption of sleep.

An uncomfortable feeling in the legs and arms is the most common symptom. These feelings can be difficult to describe, but sufferers know the feelings aren’t cramps or pain in the muscles. RLS causes a tingling, prickling or burning sensation. Some claim their legs feel as if tiny bugs are crawling under the skin. These feelings are more prominent during night time and are brought about by inactivity. These symptoms can subside and then recur and can vary in intensity.

Involuntary leg flexing and extension is another symptom of RLS. Called Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS), most who exhibit this problem aren’t even aware of it because it occurs during sleep. PLMS does keep you from entering a deep sleep and can cause disruptive sleep for anyone else sleeping in the same bed.

RLS appears to be associated with a release of the chemical dopamine which controls muscle movement. It is thought to be hereditary because in 50% of sufferers a family member also suffers form RSL.  Stress and pregnancy can aggravate the symptoms.

A deficiency of iron can cause symptoms to appear as can nerves in the hands and feet that have become damaged because of alcoholism or diabetes.

RLS is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be caused by a number of other conditions including stress, muscle cramps, diabetes and over indulgence in alcohol.  These have to be ruled out as the cause when your condition is investigated by your doctor. You will most likely be given a questionnaire to fill in to help with the diagnosis.  Questions will be asked about your sleep patterns and about the discomfort.  A visit to a sleep clinic where your sleep can be closely monitored is often necessary to help make a correct diagnosis.

Movement is the way most people treat restless leg syndrome. Walking, stretching, twitching and exercise are the types of movements most choose. However, if RLS is found to have an underlying cause such as an iron deficiency, treating that cause will of course cure the RLS.

Lifestyle changes and medication are also commonly recommended treatments for the symptoms of RLS. Muscle relaxants, medicines to treat Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, antidepressants and opiods are commonly prescribed. Since these medications are designed to treat other medical conditions, their use as a treatment for RLS can have mixed results.

Non-prescription treatments include over-the-counter pain relievers, hot or cool packs, massage, yoga, exercise and development of a good sleep routine to improve disturbed sleep.

More on RSL in the featured articles section above.

Comments (2)
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I found Epsom salts to be an incredible help for RLS.  Just soak in 2 cups epsom salts bath about 30 min before bed and you'll likely find great relief from your restless legs... I write more about Epsom salts on my blog,
My sister-in-law has had RLS for decades. Last year I discovered the People's Pharmacy website, which is run by two very senior American pharmacists. One of the main topics is RLS and using a bar of soap to stop it. Yes, that's right. Put a cheap, scent free bar of soap under the bottom sheet and sleep. I told my sister-in-law and she tried it. I had no comment until a few months later on returning from a holiday in America my brother commented that his wife had kept him awake the full two weeks, but since returning home no problems. And, yes, no soap in America. This year she took the soap with her and no problems. If you think that this is a daft idea, so do the People's Pharmacy pharmacists, but as they say the soap can't harm you, has no side effects and is cheap. It's worth a try.
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