Restless leg syndrome - RLS - is a neurological disorder. Restless leg syndrome causes the sufferer to constantly move their legs. Self control does not enter the picture. When the body tries to assume a restful position, the urge to move the legs becomes overpowering.
The constant uncontrollable movements of restless leg syndrome make sleep impossible. The lack of sleep may result in problems at work, and with family and friends.
In addition to the movement, some individuals experience numbness, tingling, itching, and cramping, as well as other unpleasant sensations. Symptoms occur mainly in the legs and feet, but also occur, more rarely, in other parts of the body. It may be mild or severe, and may occasionally disappear entirely for some time, only to reappear at a later date.
On standing, the symptoms of restless leg syndrome instantly disappear, only to reappear when the individual again tries to relax.
Although restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder, the exact cause is not completely understood. It is understood that dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, keeps movements smooth and purposeful. If there is an imbalance of dopamine in the brain, movement may become erratic and purposeless as in restless leg syndrome.RLS.
There are some factors that do contribute to the likelihood of RLS appearing. It does seem to run in families, and may even be related to the so-called 'growing pains' some children experience. Although it can appear at any age, it tends to appear around or after middle age, and gets worse in old age. The genetic factor means that if someone in your family has it, you possibly will as well.
There are medications that can help restless leg syndrome, so if you are a sufferer, see your family physician. Your physician will listen to your symptoms, and take a family history. He may do some tests to rule out other possible problems, and he may even suggest a sleep study, in which you will be observed as you sleep in a controlled setting. Twitching of limbs during sleep is a sign of RLS. Your mate may have observed this.
There are various medications that can deal with RLS. Strangely enough, these were developed to treat other conditions, but found effective for restless leg syndrome. Your physician will suggest the one he/she thinks most appropriate for you. I was given a strong medication for back pain. It dealt with the back pain and also my restless leg syndrome, for which I am grateful. Some individuals' RLS responds to anti-convulsive medications, medications for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, narcotic medications, muscle relaxants, and sleep aids.
There are a variety of things that you can do to help yourself. Control your weight. Stop smoking, and only drink in moderation. Cut out coffee and anything that contains caffeine. Stay well hydrated. Get adequate exercise. Practice stretching all the large muscles in your body. Massage your legs and feet and take a warm bath before bed. Sleep on your back with a thin pillow under your knees, or on your side, with the thin pillow between your knees. Learn and practice some relaxation techniques. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Restless leg syndrome cannot be cured, but it can be controlled, and studies to both eliminate and prevent it are ongoing.
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