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Description: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Definition

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. The sensations are strongest at night. For this reason, people with RLS generally have insomnia, which may be severe. Causes

The exact cause of RLS is unknown. RLS may occur for... More

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Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Definition

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. The sensations are strongest at night. For this reason, people with RLS generally have insomnia, which may be severe. Causes

The exact cause of RLS is unknown. RLS may occur for no identifiable reason (primary RLS), or may be caused by other medical conditions or use of certain drugs (secondary RLS).

Many people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). This is a related motor disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive, jerking movements that interrupt sleep. Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Your risk for restless leg syndrome icreases if:

* You are pregnant – some women have RLS during pregnancy; the symptoms usually disappear after birth
* You are taking certain medications
* You have a chronic disease, such as:
      o Chronic kidney failure
      o Peripheral neuropathy, a complication of diabetes
* You have a family members with RLS
* You have low iron levels (with or without anemia)

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

* A strong urge to relieve these uncomfortable feelings with movement
* Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
* Feelings of tingling, creeping, pulling, prickling, 'pins and needles', or pain, usually in the legs
* Restlessness, including floor pacing, tossing and turning in bed, and rubbing the legs

Symptoms may begin at any age, but are most common in older people. Symptoms usually increase in the evening, and during times of rest, relaxation, or inactivity. Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and do a physical and neurologic exam. The diagnosis is based mainly on your symptoms. There is no specific test for RLS, but tests to check for conditions that may trigger RLS include:

* Blood tests to check iron levels
* Monitoring of leg activity during sleep

Treatment

There is no cure for this condition. Treatments are aimed at relieving or reducing symptoms. Treatment for Mild Cases of RLS Self Care:

* Avoid the use of medications that may worsen RLS, such as antidepressants.
* Develop a regular, moderate exercise program.
* Follow a consistent sleep routine.
* Massage your legs.
* Refrain from using tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine.
* Take a hot bath.
* Take supplements of vitamins B, C, E, folate, or magnesium.
* Use a heating pad or ice pack.

Treatment of Conditions that May Trigger RLS

Effective treatment of conditions that may trigger RLS can ease or even eliminate symptoms:

* Anemia
* Diabetes
* Kidney failure
* Neuropathy

Treatment for Severe Cases of RLS Medication:

* Anticonvulsants
* Benzodiazepines
* Dopaminergic agents
* Opiods

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation

This is the application of electric stimulation to the affected area of the leg. This treatment is usually done 15-30 minutes before bedtime to help reduce leg jerking. Prevention

There are no guidelines for preventing RLS.

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