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Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes an unpleasant sensation in the legs and a strong urge to move them. For many, this urge is intense at night or when they are trying to relax. RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is caused by a deficiency of iron in some parts of the brain. Health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis may increase the risk of developing restless leg syndrome.
RLS is categorized by healthcare practitioners as severe or mild — depending on how quickly the symptoms can be relieved, the severity of the symptoms, and the amount of disturbance caused. One study estimates that 1 in 10 people will experience some of the symptoms of RLS at some point in their life. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) report shows that about 10 percent of people living in the US have RLS.
RLS presently doesn’t have a cure, but its symptoms can be managed with certain medications and lifestyle changes.
Here are the types of restless leg syndrome:
Primary RLS: The cause of primary RLS is presently unknown. The symptoms of primary RLS are usually mild initially, but they may worsen over time. Here are some of its general characteristics:
Secondary RLS: RLS is classified as secondary when it is caused by another health condition. Most of the time, the symptoms spring up after the age of 45. Here are its characteristics:
Health conditions that can cause RLS are:
The dominant symptom of RLS is a strong urge to move the legs. This urge is stronger when one is lying or sitting still. People with the condition sometimes experience a strange sensation in their legs. Its been described as itching, tingling, crawling, aching, and creeping.
RLS makes it difficult for many to fall and stay asleep. Not getting enough rest can make one tired and unable to concentrate when carrying out routine tasks. Studies suggest that lack of sleep may lead to depression, mood swings, and other health problems.
To determine if you have RLS, your doctor will carry out a series of tests. Before any test is done, your doctor will first analyze your symptoms. The following must be present before your doctor can reach a conclusion that you have RLS:
Even if you are experiencing the above, your doctor may still carry out a physical exam. They will also check to see if you are experiencing the symptoms due to other neurological reasons.
Blood Test: This is done to check for deficiencies. Your blood will be examined by a specialist to see if you are iron deficient.
Here are some ways RLS can be treated:
Below are a few things you can do to help manage RLS:
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!