What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome is a movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. These sensations typically are worse during periods of rest, especially just before sleeping at night, but they may happen during daytime periods of inactivity, such as watching a movie, attending a long business meeting, or flying in a plane.
The discomfort of restless legs syndrome usually is accompanied by an overwhelming urge to move the legs, which may relieve leg discomfort temporarily. At night, people with restless legs syndrome often find that their leg symptoms make it difficult to fall asleep. Because of this, insomnia is common, together with extreme drowsiness and fatigue during the daytime.
Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms :-
Restless legs syndrome causes a wide range of uncomfortable leg sensations, which may be described as any of the following: tingling, prickly, boring, crawling, pulling, drawing and, sometimes, pain.
Although the muscles of the lower legs are affected most often, restless legs syndrome occasionally can cause symptoms in the arms as well. The discomfort of restless legs syndrome is almost always accompanied by an irresistible need to move the legs. Leg movement, such as walking, stretching and deep knee bends, seems to bring temporary relief. A leg massage or a warm bath also may help.
In addition to leg discomfort, restless legs syndrome also can cause periodic jerking leg movements during sleep. These involuntary leg movements often disturb both the patient and the patient's bed partner. Also, because symptoms of restless legs syndrome tend to be worse at bedtime, people with restless legs syndrome may find it hard to fall asleep and to stay asleep. This can cause insomnia and severe daytime drowsiness that may interfere significantly with work, school and social life.
Restless Legs Syndrome Prevention :-
Although there is no way to prevent restless legs syndrome, it may help to avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoking.
Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment :-
Treatment of restless legs syndrome depends on the severity of your symptoms. If your symptoms are mild, simply exercising, stretching or massaging your legs, or taking a hot bath may bring relief. Lifestyle changes also may help, especially following a balanced diet and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoking. If your restless legs syndrome is linked to iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may prescribe iron.
When medication is used to treat restless legs syndrome, the following drugs are used individually or in combination:
Restless Legs Syndrome Medication :-
Dopaminergic agents :- These drugs usually relieve the discomfort of restless legs syndrome symptoms and improve sleep quality. They include carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet), pramipexole (Mix) and ropinirole (Requip).
Benzodiazepines :- These drugs are sedatives that improve sleep quality. They include clonazepam (Klonopin), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion) and diazepam (Valium).
Opioids :- These are narcotics, such as codeine (several brand names), propoxyphene (Darvon) or oxycodone (OxyContin and others), that relieve pain and suppress restless legs syndrome in people with severe, unrelenting symptoms.
Anticonvulsants :- These medicines are especially useful in patients whose symptoms are painful. They include gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol and others) and valproic acid (Depacon, Depakene, Depakote).
Others :- Tramadol (Ultram), clonidine (Catapres), amantadine (Symadine, Symmetrel) and propranolol (Inderal) also may be useful to treat this condition. Tramadol is a non-opiod pain reliever that sometimes is recommended.
Many people with restless legs syndrome also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), a common movement disorder that causes involuntary, periodic, jerking leg movements during sleep. The movements occur 1 to 10 times per minute.