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Restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes restlessness in the lower limbs of the body. This condition is also known as Willis Ekbom disease and affects 3% of the population.
The intense discomfort of restless legs syndrome prevents adequate recovery. On the contrary, the discomfort is alleviated by movement or walking.
Causes and characteristics of restless legs syndrome
The need to move your legs at rest is the main sign of this disease. Although it is more common after the age of 40, it can occur at any age. It also does not differ between genders, since men as women can suffer from it.
On the other hand, there is a population that is more susceptible to this discomfort. 20% of those who suffer from the syndrome find their cause in factors such as anemia, in the last trimester of pregnancy or in response to certain medications.
A distinction is made between a change in the functions of dopamine. The poor effect of this neurotransmitter on the nervous system has a direct impact on people’s motor skills. Especially for those whose iron content is reduced, the main diet of dopamine.
Symptoms of restless legs syndrome
The severe discomfort in the legs usually occurs after a long period of rest. This can be done after driving by car, plane or just an hour and a half in the cinema.
The legs are covered by a deep tingling sensation, as if air bubbles were flowing inside. So it’s imperative to get your legs moving. Stretching, walking or simply shaking the limbs releases tension.
The main feature of restless legs syndrome is that it gets worse at night. For this reason, this disease is usually associated with another so-called “periodic movement of the extremities during sleep”, which consists of cramps and shaking while sleeping.
How is restless legs syndrome diagnosed?
Based on the clinical history, the doctor asks routine questions related to the typical symptoms of this disease. It is a protocol drawn up by the International Study Group on Restless Legs Syndrome.
If the symptomatology matches that outlined in the previous subtitle, the specific studies of the disorder will be performed. On the one hand, a holistic physical analysis is carried out; on the other hand a neurological and a blood test.
The patient’s ferritin and iron levels should be highlighted during the blood test. Nightly polysomnography is performed to determine activity during sleep along with the immobilization test. In this way, an image of the patient’s sleep quality is obtained.
The doctor should also rule out possible injuries to the peripheral nerves and the roots of the legs. This is analyzed by electromyography and nerve conduction studies.
Analyze relevant aspects
Relevant data can be made known based on the clinical history, for example the presence of restless legs syndrome in family members. The predisposition of the family is an important cause when this disease occurs.
To make a diagnosis, the doctor needs to know how strongly the dopaminergic drug used for the treatment responds. You also need to assess whether the disease is stable or developing.
Treatment of restless legs syndrome
The appropriate treatment depends on the specific diagnosis. A poor iron person suffering from restless leg syndrome is likely to need only oral or intravenous iron and iron supplements.
Broadly, this disorder can receive natural treatments or drug treatments. In the latter case, certain drugs that increase dopamine levels are used to relieve the symptom.
Iron and calcium supplements are typical for relieving discomfort. Another element that may be present in the treatment is the muscle relaxant. Therefore, we have to consider that these products are contraindicated in pregnancy.
With natural and home remedies, you can rely on massages, daily exercises, cold compresses … Exercises such as yoga or Pilates help reduce discomfort. Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco should be avoided in food.
The restless legs syndrome in children
Learn below what you need to know about restless legs syndrome in children. You will be surprised to know that between 2% and 3% of the world’s children are badly affected.