Restless Leg Syndrome

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

It is a disorder characterized by a peculiar and often indescribable sensation in the leg (paresthesia) that makes it difficult for patients to fall asleep at night. This uncomfortable and peculiar sensation is usually described as burning, throbbing, famication and discomfort felt deep in the leg. 

What are the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

In RLS, the symptoms of restlessness exacerbate at night time before sleeping, last through the night and disappear or alleviate during the day also by walking and shaking the legs. 
Although the symptoms usually appear at night time, in certain progressed cases, they might also manifest following long periods of sitting or rest. The patients can not watch TV or socialize at night and have difficulty falling asleep which makes them get up and walk around. It is important to note that the symptoms alleviate with movement and temporary relief is possible by simply moving the legs. 

What is the prevalence of the Restless Leg Syndrome?

It affects 5 to 10% of the adult population.

What are the causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome?

Although the pathogenesis of the RLS is still unclear, iron metabolism and dopaminergic system disorders that affect the dopamine levels in the brain have been deemed the most important factors in the pathophysiology.
The causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome may include:

• Iron deficiency (low levels of ferritin is the most important factor)
• Advanced kidney failure
• Diabetes
• Parkinson's disease
• Neural issues (polyneuropathy)
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Pregnancy

How to diagnose Restless Leg Syndrome?

RLS can be diagnosed by physicians, neurologists or sleep disorders specialists. The diagnosis is only possible through patient history and physical examination as there are no available blood tests or imaging methods that help in the diagnosis of the syndrome. RLS symptoms are usually very typical therefore further test would not be required to diagnose. In any case of suspicion in the diagnosis or accompanying disease, blood tests, EMG or a nightlong sleep examination can be performed. 

What are non-pharmacological treatment options for Restless Leg Syndrome?

Regular daily exercise can help alleviate mild cases of Restless Leg Syndrome. Hot baths, leg massages and hot pads also alleviate symptoms. Excessive alcohol intake at night should be avoided as it makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
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