Overview of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition marked by an uncontrollable urge to move your legs because of uncomfortable sensation in legs. It is also considered a sleep disorder because it interferes the sleep. Restless leg syndrome is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED). It usually occurs in the evening or in the night, especially when you’re sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily. RLS symptoms range from mild to severe and its symptoms also can vary depending on its severity.
RLS can affect both men and women but is more common in women. Its symptoms include the urge to move the legs, cramps, itching, aching, leg pain, etc. It may begin at any age and even in young children’s. It generally worsens with age. If symptoms of RLS are very mild it is often unrecognized. RFor the correct treatment of RLS, it’s necessary to diagnose it correctly.
Few lifestyle changes, home remedies, and certain medications help people suffering from RLS. Few tips to relieve the symptoms of RLS include avoid daytime naps, exercise every day, maintain regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol, limit caffeine, soak your legs in warm water, avoid eating heavy meals before bed, have regular blood test for iron level and kidney function, Consult your doctor before taking any type of medicines, etc.
- Leg pain
- Urge to move the legs
- Abnormal/unpleasant sensation in legs/feet
- Sensation in the arms (less common)
- Reduce Alcohol intake
- Avoid caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Weight reduction (if overweight)
- Iron supplement (if iron deficient)
RLS can be diagnosed with the help of few symptoms, it includes:
- Relief from moving.
- Strong urge to move your legs.
- Uncomfortable sensations such as tingling, pulling or crawling
- Symptoms get worse at night
- Symptoms get worse when you are sitting or lying down.
Your doctor may conduct a physical exam or blood test to know the possible cause of RLS. This will help in the proper treatment of the condition and its causes.
- Massage: Massaging your leg muscles helps to ease the pain and symptoms of RLS. Also, it helps to increase the release of dopamine which is very beneficial. Massage just before the bed relaxes the muscles and helps in better sleep. Massage improves the circulation, which is very helpful in the treatment of RLS.
- Exercise: Regular and mild exercise helps to relieve the symptoms of RLS. Exercises such as yoga, stretching or walk are very helpful. But always remember, don’t work too hard as it may cause pain and can make your RLS symptoms even worse. Exercise is a natural remedy for people with RLS.
- Warm/Cool packs: Applying warm or cold packs alternatively in your legs, may reduce the symptoms of RLS. Some prefer warm packs, some prefer cold packs while others say that using both the packs alternatively is the best option.
- Warm baths: Warm bath helps to relax the muscles and reduces the symptoms of RLS. Soak yourself in a warm bath before bedtime, It benefits the muscles, improves circulation and improves sleep.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is very helpful in the treatment of RLS. It reduces anxiety and other symptoms of RLS. Abnormal leg activity from RLS was greatly reduced with the help of acupuncture.
- Vibration pad (Relaxis): Vibrating pad is very useful in proper sleep but won’t help to relieve the symptoms of RLS. It can only be used after the prescription of a qualified doctor. The vibrating pad is automatic, you can place the pad at affected are and set the vibration intensity. It automatically shuts itself after 30 minutes. So, it is very effective in improving sleep as you will feel vibration instead of symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome.
Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome depends upon its causes. It includes diabetes, iron deficiency, smoking, alcohol, heredity, obesity, nerve disease and others. Treating its causes will help to relieve the symptoms of RLS. For example: if you have an iron deficiency then taking iron supplements will greatly help to relieve the symptoms of RLS.
Few home remedies such as massage therapy, reduction of caffeine, regular exercise, yoga, stretching, healthy sleep habits, vibration pad, etc help in the treatment of RLS. There is no primary cure for RLS but few treatments may relieve the symptoms of RLS. Few medications include:
- Dopaminergic drugs: These medicines affect and increase the release of dopamine in the brain. It includes ropinirole (Requip), Rotigotine (Neupro) and pramipexole (Mirapex). It is approved for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS. Dopaminergic drugs relieve the symptoms of RLS but its long-term use may worsen the symptoms.
- Opioids: These medicines are used to relieve mild to severe symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. It is a type of painkiller. It includes codeine, combined oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet), oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone), and combined hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Norco, Vicodin).
- Benzodiazepines: These medicines don’t eliminate the symptoms of RLS but help to sleep through the symptoms. These medications are usually prescribed in the combination with other medicine. It includes clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax) and temazepam (Restoril).
- Anticonvulsants: These medicines are used to relieve the symptoms of RLS. It is also helpful for chronic pain and nerve pain. It includes gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) and gabapentin (Neurontin).