The symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome sound like the plot of a horror movie. If you suffer from this condition, you could go to bed at the end of each day and sleep after a good night . Then it starts . An irresistible urge to move your legs will not give you peace. You feel creeping, crawling, tingling, aching or twitching in your lower extremities, making it almost impossible to sleep. If you do not have Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), it may sound unimaginable. However, for people with intense cases of RLS this could only be another typical night.
In 1685, a doctor named Sir Thomas Willis recorded the first written case about RLS. This resulted in a review from 2012 in Sleep Medicine Reviews . Fast forward to 1945, when a doctor named Karl-Axel Ekbom got the name "Restless Legs Syndrome". Although both milestones took place some time ago, the doctors are still looking for a definitive cause and cure for this condition, which is alternatively called Willis -Ekbom Disease. Here are nine facts that explain what doctors know about this baffling disorder and what secrets need to be investigated.
. 1 Restless Legs Syndrome causes unusual physical sensations and movements.
RLS is a neurological disorder that contains a strong impulse to move body parts, usually due to unpleasant sensations, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Although this condition almost always affects the legs – after all, they are exactly right in the name – it is also possible for RLS to affect areas such as arms, chest and head, according to NINDS . 19659009] Sometimes RLS sensations are so weird that people have trouble describing them, according to the Mayo Clinic . Thus, the following descriptions generally agree: –
- electrical feelings
These symptoms According to estimates by NINDS can affect up to 7 to 10 percent of people in the United States. It can start at any age, but RLS becomes more common with age, says the Mayo Clinic . If the symptoms start before the age of 40, it is more likely that a genetic component is involved (more on that later).
It is possible to experience these symptoms every night, a few times a week or, more rarely, with varying severity, according to the NINDS . However, RLS typically becomes more frequent and severe with age.
. 2 Moving the legs can temporarily curb these strange feelings.
It is only natural that if you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, you do just that. Interestingly, moving the RLS-affected body parts may temporarily remove or attenuate the symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic .
This is the reason why many people with RLS do things like speed, they tap on feet stretch and generally move their legs as far as possible when they have symptoms. But the sensations return as soon as the movement ceases. This is a big reason why this condition can be so life-threatening depending on its severity.
. 3 RLS can make it almost impossible to sleep well.
In a cruel turn, the symptoms are most likely to occur when you desperately forgo rest: when you try to sleep . Since most people work during the day and sleep at night, symptoms in the late afternoon and evening tend to increase at night when a person is at rest, according to NINDS . (This is because RLS apparently follows the circadian rhythm of a person .)
Therefore, RLS can lead to problems such as excessive daytime fatigue that can strain relationships and work. It can also damage mental health . Feelings of frustration and helplessness are only to be expected if you are stolen from your own body and this may eventually contribute to conditions such as depression and anxiety .
This chronic sleep deprivation is part of the reason why there is keen interest in whether or not RLS can increase the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease . Although the existence of an association is still in the debate some researchers believe that the association is at least partially deficient in sleep. (This could be due to a combination of factors, such as how sleep deprivation is a risk factor for obesity which can then contribute to heart disease.)
4. RLS can cause another sensory problem called periodic limb movements of sleep.
In addition to the (sometimes literal) pain of falling asleep, it is estimated that more than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience periodic limb dormancy (PLMS). NINDS says. These are essentially involuntary leg and / or arm spasms that can occur every 15 to 40 seconds throughout the night, causing constant disturbances that can further damage sleep.
It seems as though blood pressure and heart rate spike are temporary during these jerky movements, which is why some experts believe that PLMS and associated RLS could increase the risk of heart problems over time.
. 5 Primary RLS happens without known cause.
"When it comes to the brain, it's very complex," says Dr. John Winkelman, head of the Sleep Disorders Clinical Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital SELF. "There are no easy explanations."
Against this background, let's talk about possible causes of primary (or idiopathic) RLS, which means when physicians can not find a deeper reason why someone has this condition.
One major The theory revolves around the neurotransmitter dopamine, which, according to the NINDS is necessary for the creation and maintenance of normal muscle movements. Some experts believe that dopamine pathway dysfunction may lead to uncontrollable movements that may be involved in conditions such as RLS.
It also seems that there is a hereditary element. A 2017 study in The Lancet Neurology analyzed the DNA of 428,534 individuals and concluded that there are at least 19 genetic risk variants for RLS. Further research is needed to understand the link between these genes and the biological component of RLS.
. 6 Secondary RLS is linked to certain risk factors.
For example, physicians believe that iron deficiency can make a person vulnerable to RLS. One theory is that low iron content can affect dopamine signaling. another is that genetic risk factors of RLS can affect iron stores.
This iron compound could help explain why pregnancy is a major risk factor for RLS. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for iron deficiency because their blood volume increases by 20 to 30 percent which requires more iron to form hemoglobin, which can send oxygenated red blood cells throughout the body. Increasing hormones during pregnancy, such as estrogen and progesterone, may also have an impact on dopamine production, although the scientific jury is still out. If someone becomes ill with RLS during pregnancy, the symptoms usually sound after birth after the NINDS .
Taking certain medications is another risk factor. Some antidepressants which increase serotonin (including the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors of the antidepressant class), antinausea drugs and antihistamines, may cause or worsen RLS, according to the NINDS . All of these mechanisms seem to be linked to these critical dopamine pathways.
. 7 RLS diagnosis depends primarily on symptoms.
There is no laboratory test for detection of RLS, explains the Mayo Clinic . Instead, RLS is diagnosed on the basis of a series of symptoms defined in the 2003 guidelines, published in Sleep Medicine :
- A strong urge to move the legs, which typically results in additional unpleasant sensations (what however, is not always the case))
- The need to move occurs during periods of rest or inactivity.
- Temporary relief during exercise
- Worsening of symptoms in the evening and at night (or just evening and nighttime symptoms)
Your doctor may do so also perform medical examinations such as a blood test to prevent iron deficiency, according to the Mayo Clinic to check. The treatment of RLS is about alleviating symptoms.
Initially, your doctor may recommend non-pharmaceutical tactics to relieve your RLS. Here are some ideas from the Mayo Clinic and the NINDS :
- Cropping or cutting caffeine Caffeine Nicotine and other substances that can affect sleep  but not too early at bedtime if you may be energized)
- Take a warm bath and massage your legs to loosen up your muscles
- Apply heat and cold packs to your legs
- Try to stick with a regular sleep plan, if at all possible
It may also be helpful to organize the day as possible around the symptoms, eg. For example, by scheduling sedentary activities such as traveling or watching a movie at times your RLS tends to be the least active. (Since RLS seems to follow circadian rhythms and most people work during the day and rest at night, this may be the morning for you. However, for those working shifts, RLS could actually work worse in the morning and better in the night.)
Then there are the medical treatments. Some drugs work to raise brain levels of dopamine, according to NINDS . Anti-seizure medications that can calm muscle movements are becoming more important in RLS treatment as well. And people with proven iron deficiency can find relief with the medically approved supplementation.
Sometimes doctors prescribe opioids for RLS as they tend to alleviate some of the discomfort, however with stricter regulations and growing concern about the addiction option is becoming more and more of a last resort. The same goes for the class of sedatives known as benzodiazepines, which can help you sleep but can also lead to problems such as daytime sleepiness, according to NINDS .
Finally, there are US Food Approved Devices and Drug Administration (FDA) to help alleviate RLS symptoms. Relaxis is a vibration pad that goes under the legs, and Restiffic is a pressure wrap around the legs or feet.
. 9 The hope for people with RLS is on the horizon.
In the past, many people with RLS had no idea what was going on. Winkelman. Those who suffer from this condition often fear what others would think if they tried to explain these strange phantom-like resting pains, he explains.
Well, Dr. Although scientists have not fully understood this condition, there are fewer puzzles about RLS, so more and more people are seeking – and hopefully getting – the help they need.