What Is Restless Leg Syndrome? What Are The Symptoms And Treatment Methods?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common nervous system disorder that affects at least 5 percent of adults and 2 percent of children worldwide. This disease is described with many different stories by patients, but it is generally characterized by symptoms such as itching, shivers, pain, burning and tingling in the feet and legs, and in some patients the arms. The disease can be confused with muscle cramps and numbness and this delays the diagnosis and initiation of treatment. For this reason, it is of great importance to determine the source of the problem with a detailed examination in patients with symptoms.
While the disease can occur at any age and sex, complaints increase with age. Many patients complain of an irrepressible desire to move. This feeling of discomfort, which increases especially at night, turns into sleep disorders in time and negatively affects the quality of life of the suffering individuals.
What are the symptoms of restless leg syndrome?
The differential symptoms of the disease can be listed as follows in general:
- Feeling of restlessness in the legs, feet and sometimes arms
- The constant need to move due to feelings of restlessness
- Increased pain and discomfort at night
- The feeling that the pain and discomfort felt is reduced for a short time by moving the affected area
- Involuntary twitching of the legs
Causes of RLS
Most cases of the disease are classified as idiopathic, meaning that the causes are not clear. In other cases however, some certain factors in the individual play a role in the emergence of the disease, such as:
- Genetic predispositions
- Dopamine imbalance
- Pregnancy (especially the last trimester, 6th to 9th months)
- Iron deficiency
- Excessive alcohol use
- Various deficiencies along the spinal cord
- Use of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs that increase serotonin levels
How is restless leg syndrome diagnosed?
In order to diagnose RLS, the individual’s disease history and family history should be learned in detail. In cases where the disease is suspected, physical and neurological examinations must be performed. It is of great importance that physicians specializing in sleep disorders also examine the patients during the diagnosis phase. Some electrophysiological tests and blood tests can be used to diagnose the disease.
Types of restless leg syndrome
The disease is basically divided into 2 subgroups:
1- Idiopathic RLS: In this subgroup, the exact cause of the disease is unknown. It can be divided into two as genetic idiopathic RLS and non-familial RLS.
2- Secondary RLS: In this group, the disease is due to some specific condition of the individual like polyneuropathy, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, anemia, pregnancy, vitamin or mineral deficiencies or some rheumatic problems.
Treatment of restless leg syndrome
Treatment must be planned regarding the inspected causes of the disease if any, and with idiopathic type, massage, hot and cold compresses, exercise and medication can be used. Quality of nutrition is also of great importance in RLS, and therefore it is frequently advised to control the dietary intake of substances that trigger neurons such as caffeine.
Apart from these, patients with restless leg syndrome should also avoid stress, smoking and prolonged immobilization. If you have the disease, you can prevent the symptoms and improve your quality of life by following the treatment principles recommended by your physician.
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