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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Restless Leg Syndrome -- Is It Real?

Restless Leg Syndrome

It is estimated that up to ten percent of the U.S. population suffers from a condition known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). It is a neurological disorder symptomized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, accompanied by feelings in the legs that range from tingling and itching to a burning sensation or electric shocks. Yes, RLS is real.


Symptoms of RLS occur during the night when a person is relaxed. In fact, it's the resting that triggers the sensations. The condition can be mild to severe and range from uncomfortable to painful. Moving the legs relieves the symptoms but only temporary, leading to a constant urge to move the legs. Symptoms vary but include throbbing, itching, burning, tingling, aching, pain and a feeling of electric shocks shooting through the legs.

What causes RLS?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there is no known cause for RLS. However, research seems to point to certain underlying conditions that may lead to RLS. One strong possibility is a dysfunction in the brain circuits that use dopamine, which controls muscle movement. Kidney failure and diabetes have also been linked to RLS.

Can it be treated?

Yes. Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco seem to aggravate the condition, so decreasing their use will help. Taking iron, folate, and magnesium will also help if the patient has a deficiency. Other remedies include maintaining a consistent pattern of sleep, exercising and massaging the legs. There is no one drug that will cure RLS. However, drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease by increasing dopamine have produced good results in some patients, but they can produce side affects such as nausea and dizziness.

Many people who have symptoms of RLS don't seek help because they do not believe it is a real condition and may be ridiculed by others. But the condition is real and treatable for adults as well as children who suffer from RLS.
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