Has it ever happened to you that you are lying in your bed, and you suddenly get the urge to stretch your legs? You feel some discomfort in your legs which you feel will only go away by stretching your legs or by moving around. Well, it is possible that you are suffering from a condition called restless legs syndrome. Let’s find out what it is.
What is restless legs syndrome?
To find out more about this condition, Health Shots reached out to Dr Vipul Gupta, Chief of Neurointerventional Surgery at Artemis Hospital who told us that “Willis-Ekbom disease, commonly known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), is a nervous system disorder which causes a sudden urge to move your legs. It is often considered as a sleep disorder because it typically happens while a person is in a resting position. RLS doesn’t attack at any specific age group, but gets worse as you age. The syndrome can interfere with one’s sleep and affect their daily quality of life.”
Symptoms of restless leg syndrome
The symptoms for RLS can vary from mild to unbearable and are usually on both sides of the body. Dr Gupta explains that these sensations can happen on one side and move to the other as well. “Unusual sensations like itching, crawling, pulling, aching, throbbing or pins and needles in the leg are some of the common symptoms of RLS. Other symptoms can include leg discomfort and disturbances in sleep,” says Dr Gupta.
Some possible causes of restless leg syndrome
Although there is no specific reason for Restless Leg Syndrome, many doctors tie it to the genes playing a role as nearly half of the people with RLS also have a family member with the condition. According to Dr Gupta some other reason consists of:
• Chronic Diseases like iron deficiency, kidney failure, diabetes, etc.
• Medications including antidepressants, antipsychotics and cold, allergy medications that have antihistamines.
• Pregnancy can also cause RLS as doctors have noticed that women in their last trimester often have symptoms of RLS.
• Bad Lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking or lack of physical activity can lead to triggering symptoms of RLS.
• Sleep disorders like apnea or lack of sleep can also trigger RLS.
How to treat restless leg syndrome?
Dr Gupta says that “while there is no specific medical cure for Restless Legs Syndrome, changes in your lifestyle can help control and treat the condition.”
1. If the symptoms are mild to moderate, small changes in lifestyle choices like getting regular exercise for at least 20-30 minutes every day, keeping up with a good sleep schedule, discontinuing caffeine and avoiding smoking and drinking can help treat RLS.
2. Some other ways to treat RLS without drugs consist of leg massages, ice packs, saunas or hot baths.
3. The only medical way to treat RLS, can be with drugs curing other medical conditions which are causing RLS symptoms.