Restless Leg Syndrome - The Sleep Disorder Affecting Millions

Did you know that RLS (Restless leg syndrome) afflicts over 15% of adults? More women than men have restless leg syndrome and occurrences increase as you get older. People with arthritis, varicose veins, and diabetes, have a higher potential of getting restless leg syndrome.Those who have RLS have an in-suppressible urge to jerk their lower legs, knees, and in some cases, arms. Some people reports feeling pain along with the urge to move their limbs. The tendency is to feel an itching, tingling, burning, prickly, or a pulling sensation. Others have described it as a feeling of "worms moving under their skin."

Unfortunately, these symptoms don't occur just during the night time. They occur during the day as well. Those who have restless leg syndrome report having to get out of bed numerous times throughout the night which is a major disruption to sleep. Because of this, many have severe day time sleepiness. For those who constantly experience these symptoms, a lifestyle change isn't optional, it's mandatory. Things to avoid include those long trips in the car/airplane, theater, concerts, and going to restaurants. It's a common occurrence for those who have restless leg syndrome to develop depression. Scientists seem to think that RLS might be caused by breakdowns in the areas of the brain which handle sensations, movements, and reflexes. They also believe that people can be genetically dis-positioned to have restless leg syndrome. Usually RLS won't be diagnosed by one test. In fact, upon examination, some don't show signs of an abnormality. More common than not, physicians will diagnose based on the patients description of the symptoms. Doctors also look at family history and blood tests. Treatment usually consists of attempting to control the sensations those with RLS experience. Sometimes supplements of iron are given due to the link between anemia and restless leg syndrome. Other things one can do are stress relieving techniques, food changes, and the eradication of alcohol and caffeine.

Dopamine agents, anticonvulsants, opioids, and benzodiazepines can also be prescribed by your doctor to treat this disorder. Although the drugs don't rid you of RLS, they do wonders to manage symptoms for some people. Those who are on these medications, are usually on them for the rest of their lives. Periodic limb movement (PLMD), is another disorder very similar to restless leg syndrome. The differences are RLS can occur when your sleeping or when your awake and PLMD only occurs when the person is sleeping. RLS is usually voluntary reactions to uncomfortable sensations. Periodic limb movement disorder movements are not voluntary. The good news is either of these can be managed through medical treatment.