How many of us have either heard of or suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)? The numbers are probably low on both counts. People suffering from RLS may experience an urge to move their legs followed by an uncomfortable feeling such as a creeping or crawling feeling or even tingling, cramping, burning or flat-out pain. And for those of you wanting a good night sleep, that might be a problem, because RLS often takes place late in the day or at night. Let's look more closely at the seldom heard of ailment, Restless Legs Syndrome. What is Restless LegSyndrome?
RLS is a neurological disorder that is characterized by unusual sensations in the thighs and calves. The sensations may feel like insects crawling on the skin, burning or tugging. The abnormal sensation may be bothersome, irritating and even painful. The best way to alleviate these sensations is to move the legs in a rapid and repetitive fashion.Activity seems to lessen the symptoms and many times, the symptoms are worse at night. How common is RLS?
About eight percent of all Americans suffer from RLS, which equates to about 12 million people. This figure may be low, as this is a fairly common condition that may go undiagnosed and unreported. It is interesting to note that there is a hereditary factor associated with RLS and that 50 percent of all cases have a genetic association among family members. What causes RLS?
There continues to be research into the causes of RLS and several answers are speculative.There are no known specific causes. As previously noted, there is a hereditary predisposition. It has been shown that patients with RLS may suffer from anemia and low levels of iron. There may be some underlying medical conditions that contribute to the symptoms such as kidney disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and peripheral neuropathy (numbness). During pregnancy, women may experience the symptoms during their last trimester. Lastly, certain cold medications, anti-seizure medications, psychiatric medications, some blood pressure medications and anti-nausea medicines may also worsen the condition. How is this diagnosed?
At present, there is no specific diagnostic test that will confirm RLS. A patient must have a comprehensive history taken and a physical examination by a health care provider. There are no blood tests that will aid the diagnosis. After all underlying medical conditions have been ruled out; four basic criteria must be met. These criteria include: 1) desire to move limbs when there is an associated unusual sensation 2) symptoms that are worse at rest and improved with activity 3) motor restlessness 4) symptoms that are worse at night when trying to sleep. The International RLS Study Group has developed these criteria important to develop a regular pattern for sleep, avoid exercise just prior to bedtime, avoid the use of alcohol, and be sure to allow for relaxation at bedtime, avoiding complicated mental tasks.For more information visit www.MedicalSystemsUSA.com
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