Restless legs syndrome, also called RLS, is a disorder that affects some people and causes them to have an urge to move their legs. The desire to move the legs comes from the strange feelings that they have, such as a pulling, tugging, itching, aching, or burning sensation. Some have reported that it feels like electric shocks in their legs. Moving the legs and changing position seems to help with this. The problem gets worse in the evening and overnight.
Naturally, this makes it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. It can make a person feel tired the following day and it can make it difficult for them to concentrate. Eventually, it can cause mood swings, depression, and a range of health issues. The severity of the syndrome can range from mild to severe.
Interestingly, the symptoms are not always constant. In some patients, they might be sporadic and only appear occasionally. They could disappear and then return without warning. As a person ages, the symptoms tend to get worse and they tend to be more frequent.
The causes behind restless legs syndrome are still unclear. However, there does seem to be a familial linkage. Researchers have found that about half of the people who suffer from RLS have someone else in the family that suffered it, as well. Many believe that there are underlying conditions that could cause or exacerbate RLS. These conditions include Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, pregnancy, kidney failure, low levels of iron and vitamins, diabetes, and diseases of the nervous system. In addition, there could be a link between restless legs syndrome and medications that are used for treating psychosis, depression, seizures, and nausea.
In some cases, if the underlying condition is treated, it could provide relief of the restless legs syndrome. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the RLS symptoms will continue.
Many who have RLS have also found that drinking coffee or drinking alcohol can trigger the symptoms or make them worse. By reducing intake of these substances, or stopping the consumption altogether, it could be possible to reduce some of the symptoms. Another issue that has been found to make the symptoms worse is lack of sleep. Ironically, the RLS itself causes many people to lose out on sleep, so the condition sometimes continues to worsen.
You can find a range of options to try when you are seeking to control your restless legs syndrome. You will often want to try to determine what the underlying cause of the RLS might be and try to work on dealing with that health condition first. For example, patients who have a lack of iron will want to increase their iron to see how it will help. There are other non-medication methods of dealing with these issues, as well. At Rio Vista Wellness Center, we can offer neuromuscular therapy as a means to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Proper massaging techniques such as this can help to relax the legs and the body, and reduce the symptoms, making it easier for the sufferer to get to sleep in the evening. It is nice to find a way to deal with the issue without resorting to medications.
There is no known way to prevent getting RLS, but as you can see, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms.
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William F. Neckman, LMT, NMT