When your legs just won’t stop.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is an uncomfortable sensation in the legs whereby there is an irresistible urge to keep moving your feet. And these urges know precisely when to occur; when you are resting or inactive, for instance when you have been sitting down for long hours or just went to bed.
At night, the symptoms usually become worse and make it difficult to fall asleep. This is one of the main reasons why RLS is also classified as a sleep disorder. But the best description is that it is a neurological sensory disorder.
What Causes RLS
Brain chemical imbalance
According to research, RLS might be caused by a brain chemical imbalance. The chemical, in this case, is dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in charge of sending messages that aid in muscle movement.
If your parents or grandparents or someone in your lineage had RLS, then your risk of having it is higher. People with a family history of RLS make up approximately 50% of the cases.
Typical hormonal changes or even pregnancy worsen the signs or symptoms of RLS. This happens particularly during the third trimester. The good news is that the symptoms go away once the baby comes.
- Sensations during rest
- Symptoms worsen in the evening
- Relief during movement
- Legs twitch at night
Living With RLS
RLS has no known cure, and therefore, it can only be managed. It is one of those disorders that bring about daytime exhaustion and sleepiness. This, in turn, affects your mood, job performance, concentration and even relationships to some extent. This simply means that RLS is managed to relieve you from the intensity of the symptoms. The movement offers temporary relief, but for something long-lasting, the methods below suffice.
Lifestyle changes. One of the factors that contribute to the severity of RLS is the intake of alcohol and tobacco; therefore decreasing or stopping their use is essential. You should also change your sleeping patterns by ensuring that you go to bed and wake up at specific times so that your body gets the routine. Go to the gym, take warm baths, get a leg massage or use an ice pack.
Antiseizure medication. Antiseizure medication is now being prescribed more than ever for persons with RLS. These drugs are being used for the treatment of both moderate and severe cases of RLS. It should be noted that as much as the drug decreases sensory disturbances, it has possible side effects such as fatigue, dizziness and sleepiness.
Iron. Improve your iron intake in your diet and in supplement form.
Note down your triggers. Find out and write down what happens typically before the disturbances become worse. Is there a pattern, and if there is, what is the common denominator?
Exercise. 30 to 60 minutes spent doing moderate exercises comes highly recommended. The exercises you do must actively involve your legs. Do not go to extremes and also avoid exercising just before bedtime.
Restless legs syndrome is not a life-threatening condition, but it can truly get you down if not managed. So do your best to live the best life. Don’t be restless when it comes to managing the condition.