RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME
Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes an uncomfortable and irresistible sensation to move or wiggle the legs. While it generally occurs more frequently at night or during times of rest, it can occur at any time during the day. There are medications, in addition to lifestyle modifications, that can reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with restless leg syndrome.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
The most recognizable symptom of restless leg syndrome is the incredible urge to move the legs, and it can feel like an aching, pulling, or itching sensation. The sensation is generally relieved by walking or stretching, but it might return during rest or sleep. Nighttime is the most common time for symptoms to arise, which can disrupt sleep and cause daytime fatigue due to poor sleeping habits.
Unfortunately, symptoms can get worse and then get better, depending on life circumstances. For example, pregnancy or other stressful life events can cause an increase in symptoms. Hereditary plays a considerable role in the likelihood of developing this condition, but other chronic medical conditions, like peripheral neuropathy, can also cause symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is conducted by a physician who will review symptoms, administer a physical examination, and possibly order blood work to ensure the symptoms cannot be attributed to another disorder. Sometimes, the symptoms can be managed by treating the underlying condition, like anemia or peripheral neuropathy, but other times, treating an underlying cause is not possible. Several medications can be used to treat restless leg syndrome, such as Mirapex and Requip.
Muscle relaxants and sleep medications can also be prescribed, but long term usage of these medications is generally not recommended. The physician will also recommend lifestyle adjustments, such as exercise, reducing caffeine intake, warm baths, and applying a warm or cold compress when symptoms arise.