Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that results in uncomfortable feelings in your legs. You might experience multiple sensations like itching, crawling, prickling, or pulling that give you a continuous urge to move your legs.
Often, walking, stretching, or shaking your legs can help relieve the pain. Remaining inactive tends to make the symptoms worse. RLS often makes it difficult for patients to sleep, as the symptoms typically occur in the evening.
While anyone can develop RLS, the condition tends to be severe among older adults. Some of the symptoms may begin in childhood or early adulthood. Also, RLS is more common among women than in men. In some instances, RLS presents itself as a genetic disorder. However, this condition can develop as a result of medical problems, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Certain medications like allergy drugs, antidepressants, and anti-nausea can further fuel the condition.
How Does it Differ From Anxiety/Leg Bouncing?
Unlike restless legs syndrome, which involves uncomfortable sensations, leg bouncing is usually a temporary response to something that causes anxiety. Typically, when you get anxious, your body gets into fight-or-flight mode. This anxiety may cause occasional, uncontrollable leg tremors that are not usually a cause for alarm.
Dangers of Restless Leg Syndrome?
RLS sensations differ from normal sensations in people without the disorder. The subtle symptoms and sensations can make it challenging to characterize.
Symptoms and Signs
RLS patients often experience leg discomfort that presents itself as tugging, itching, burning, gnawing, or throbbing. You may also have an uncontrollable urge to move your limbs. These sensations often increase when you are sitting or lying down to rest.
If you suffer from RLS, you may experience difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. The constant desire to move your legs reduces the chances of catching sleep. RLS symptoms may appear once you lay down at night. Massaging or stretching your legs can help you ease the sensations.
The sleep disturbances you experience may result in fatigue and the desire to sleep during the day.
How to test for RLS
Physicians often base the diagnosis of RLS on your symptoms. While there is no specific test for this condition, your healthcare provider may conduct a physical and neurological exam and blood tests to rule out possible health issues associated with RLS.
Also, your doctor might inquire about your family history and any instances of insomnia arising from RLS symptoms. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your physician may request an overnight sleep study to evaluate for any change of sleeping patterns.
Your physician may also inquire whether you experience trouble remaining awake during the day. You must meet certain criteria before a physician can confirm the RLS diagnosis. These criteria include:
- A consistent urge to move your limbs accompanied with uncomfortable sensations
- Worsening sensations during inactivity and rest
- Painful sensations that occur solely in the evening
- The feelings ease when you walk, stretch, or exercise
When treating RLS, the goal is always to stabilize symptoms and enhance sleep consistency. Typically, RLS treatment primarily depends on the severity of the symptoms you experience. You’ll know it’s time to seek treatment if excessive daytime drowsiness and insomnia affect your quality of life.
You could use multiple approaches to minimize symptoms. Top treatment approaches include:
- Exercise – RLS symptoms often go hand in hand with physical inactivity. Engaging in a consistent exercise program helps to manage symptoms.
- Sleep hygiene – It would help to maintain a daily routine and bedroom environment to encourage high-quality sleep. Cutting back on alcohol and caffeine also helps you to minimize the symptoms. Ensure that you get enough sleep, preferably 7 to 9 hours every day.
- Leg massage – Massage and hot baths can help to stimulate your legs and keep the RLS symptoms at bay. You could use a heating pad or cold compress to ease the pressure on your muscles. Acupressure also helps to minimize RLS symptoms.
At Sunshein Podiatry Associates, we offer accurate diagnoses of anyone who reaches out to us with RLS symptoms. We can also help you create an effective treatment plan to keep the symptoms at bay. Get in touch with our Centerville, OH office for expert diagnosis and treatment solutions. Call us at (937) 435-7477 to book your appointment.
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