Restless Legs Syndrome – A Nervous System And Sleep Disorder

The symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are such that it can be considered a sleep disorder because it interferes with productive sleep. Sleep disorder testing is often done in order to diagnosis restless legs syndrome.

Individuals who suffer from RLS experience strange sensations in their limbs that resemble creepy crawlies, pins and needles or other uncomfortable sensations. These sensations worsen when they sit or lie down. The sensations are to such a degree that they urge the individual to get up and walk around or otherwise become active. Activity usually lessens the symptoms.

The degree of symptoms can vary from mild to very severe. The symptoms can be very disruptive of daily life and of the person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. It may be difficult for the person with RLS to sit still during a movie, or to be still at a desk job. Usually the symptoms of RLS worsen in the evening and overnight hours. The symptoms will also worsen with age so that while young a person may only experience mild symptoms and by the time the same person is 50, the symptoms are disrupting sleep and daily life.

Individuals of all races, sexes and ages can get RLS. Approximately 10% of the U.S. population is affected by RLS.

Unfortunately RLS is often misdiagnosed.

To make the diagnosis a doctor will ask you to fill out a medical questionnaire that will help to determine what your symptoms are and if you have any medical conditions that may be aggravating the symptoms. You will be asked to provide a list of any medications you are currently taking including any recreational drugs and over-the-counter drugs.

A family history will also be taken to determine if any family members have RLS.

You will be given a complete physical exam and a neurological exam. The doctor may also order a laboratory blood test and a sleep order study.

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Unfortunately at this time there is no cure for restless legs syndrome. There are various treatments and techniques that do help to relieve the symptoms of RLS.

Your doctor will give you a list of substances to avoid. These substances have been shown to worsen the symptoms of RLS. The substances to avoid include:

* Alcohol

* Caffeine (food and drink)

* Any product that contains nicotine

There are conditions and diseases, which may be underlying medical issues that may need to be controlled that have an affect on RLS symptoms. These underlying conditions include:

* Anemia

* Diabetes

* Kidney disease

* Parkinson’s disease

* Nutritional deficiencies

* Thyroid disease

* Varicose veins

Dietary supplements may be beneficial in dealing with deficiencies. Supplements may include: vitamins and minerals.

Physical therapy, self-care treatments such as hot or cold baths, and applying hot or cold packs to the affected limb, limb massage, and also vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes before going to bed at night. There are many relaxation techniques that may be helpful.

Medications that are aimed at relieving symptoms are not a cure for RLS, they only can bring some temporary relief from the symptoms of RLS.

Symptoms can temporarily dissappear only to reappear again at a later date. Symptoms will worsen with age.