RLS or restless legssyndrome is characterized by a need to move the legs, typically in conjunction with limb discomfort. The symptoms worsen in the evening and at night, occur while at rest, and are eased by movement. The condition is a neurological disorder and is not attributed to other illnesses like myalgia, leg cramps, arthritis, or positional pain.
RLS involves periodic limb movements, or PLMs, that are unconscious, repetitive, short contractions of the legs. It often occurs during sleep and occasionally during a relaxed awareness state. There are vast variations in symptom severity and frequency causing moderate or severe distress. In many individuals, RLS is a common cause of sleep disturbances or insomnia that can be distressing and even leads to depression.
Almost 50% of individuals have inherited RLS although it can also be linked to certain acquired diseases, including iron deficiency, pregnancy, and chronic renal failure. Treatment of RLS is possible in a neurological center under certified and experienced neurologists through proper diagnosis and evaluation of the symptoms.
South Valley Neurologyis a multispecialty neurological practice that has been treating patients in the Greater Bay Area and beyond since 2011. They have received hundreds of five-star reviews that show their hard work to establish and maintain their excellent reputation.
Their team of board-certified skilled neurologists offers compassionate care and treatment due to which many of their patients are willing to drive and even fly distances for treatment. They maintain long-lasting relationships with their patients taking care of their unique needs and providing the best care in the years to come.
What aggravates RLS?
RLS can worsen due to coexisting sleep disorders, fragmented sleep, or inadequate sleep. In some cases, treatment for obstructive sleep apnea symptoms improves RLS which needs proper treatment and medication. Patients with RLS may also experience insomnia due to behavioral issues (such as drinking too much coffee), sadness, or anxiety. These issues may require separate medical attention.
Forms of RLS
Intermittent RLS occurs occasionally, typically less than twice per week but also requires proper treatment and therapy.
Chronic persistent RLS
Chronic persistent RLS is characterized when symptoms are frequent and bothersome enough to need daily treatment, typically occurring on average at least twice a week, and causing moderate to severe distress.
Treatment for RLS
The course of RLS treatment should be based on the patient’s unique symptoms and may include both pharmaceutical and nonpharmacologic interventions. Patients should have a neurologist or their primary care doctor keep an eye on them for the emergence of negative side effects, amplification, or rebound.
The effective treatments for both intermittent and chronic RLS are using dopamine and taking iron and magnesium supplements. The FDA has approved Levodopa plus carbidopa as an effective medication to be used intermittently for treating RLS.
Simple lifestyle changes can help to control the symptoms of RLS.
- Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can help in relaxing the muscles and reduce tremors in the legs.
- Applying warm and cool packs.
- Maintaining good sleep hygiene.
- Exercising regularly.
- Avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.
- Wrapping the foot or using a vibrating pad.
RLS can begin at any age and usually worsens with age. Proper treatment is essential so that it does not disturb sleep and interferes with daily activities.