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I, as well as Millions of Americans suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Since I was a young child, I would cry with my legs as they kept me up most of the night. I would tell my mother that I had “the funny legs" and she would give me an Aspirin for what she thought was leg pain. The aspirin would just make it worse. I suffered without understanding, as my legs would feel as if something was crawling, burning, digging and moving deep inside my legs. The sensation would come on late in the evening and I would not be able to sit and watch a movie or read before bed time. Walking or moving my legs seemed to help so I would jump rope only to have the sensation return as soon as I stopped jumping. Sleep time was not a fun time as a child.
RLS was intermittent in my early years but it became an uninvited guest every night about ten years ago. Two years ago, my daughter who is a Family Practice Physician introduced me to Requip and it helped me. Requip is the first FDA approved medication for the treatment of RLS. Requip has helped but not cured my RLS. Continued research is necessary to understand and control this very disruptive Syndrome. Ask your doctor about RLS and Requip today.
In addition to medication, there are other methods for dealing with RLS. According to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, there are one can use home remedies to relieve the symptoms of RLS:
- If your diet lacks nutrients, supplement it with vitamins rich in iron, vitamin B12 or folate.
- Drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions, nausea, herbal medicines, colds, allergies and depression can make RLS worse.
- Stop drinking alcohol
- Walking, stretching, taking baths, massage and other relaxation techniques can help
- When you have to stay seated, do something that keeps your mind engaged such as reading, writing or sewing
- Think about eliminating coffee from your routine, which could contribute to your sleep deprivation.
Many people who have Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS) also have Periodic Leg Movements of Sleep (PLMS).
Periodic Leg Movements of Sleep is characterized by jerks that happen in the body every 20 to 30 seconds on and off throughout the night. This increases chance the of insomnia in sufferers with restless leg syndrome.
Once you've been diagnosed with RLS, you'll want to do some research to find out how best to live with RLS. Here are some tips from the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation for how best to live with RLS:
- Talk about it. Share stories and concerns with family, friends and support groups
- Don't fight it. Don't suppress the urge to move. Get out of bed and find an activity that takes your mind off it
- Keep a sleep diary. Keep track of your medications, strategies for coping and share them with your doctor. If you can't sit still to write, dictate into a tape recorder
- Rise to new levels. You may be more comfortable if you elevate your desktop to a height that will let you stand
- Stretch out your day. Begin and end your day with stretching or gentle massage.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that results in a restlessness and need to move ones legs. With it typically comes insomnia (the inability to sleep) and affects 12 million Americans.
Research indicates that genetics play a part in who gets RLS. Those with a positive family history of the condition have a 50 percent chance of also having RLS if a first-degree relative also has it.
The four symptoms of RLS:
1. You have a strong urge to move your legs which you may not be able to resist. You also feel the uncomfortable sensations often described as a creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging or gnawing.
2. Your RLS symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.
3. Your RLS symptoms get better when you move your legs. The relief can be complete or only partial but generally starts very soon after starting an activity.
4. Your RLS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Activities that bother you at night do not bother you during the day.
According to Sleep Medicine Reviews, a publication which provides international coverage of sleep disorders, RLS usually follows a chronic course and it may worsen over time in some patients. Talk to your doctor if you think you have restless leg syndrome.
There is no cure for RLS and it is a life long condition. Symptoms may gradually worsen with age, though more slowly for those with the idiopathic form of RLS than for patients who also suffer from an associated medical condition. The good news is, current therapies can control the disorder, minimizing symptoms and increasing periods of restful sleep.
Some patients experience relief in remissions. Remissions are periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, or months, although symptoms usually eventually reappear. A diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease. If you're suffering from
Nocturnal leg cramps are different from Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS). If you wake up in the middle of the night with a "charley horse," yelping in pain, this should not be mistaken for restless leg syndrome. Nocturnal leg cramps differ from restless legs syndrome (RLS) because RLS does not involve cramping or pain.
Nocturnal leg cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions most commonly of the calf muscles during the night or periods of rest. The cramping sensation may last from a few seconds to 10 minutes, but the pain from the cramps may linger for a longer period. Nocturnal leg camps tend to be found in middle-aged or older populations, but people of any age can have them.
The cause of nocturnal leg cramps is not known. Some cases of the disorder can occur without a triggering event, while other causes of leg cramps may be linked to prolonged sitting, dehydration, an overexertion of the muscles, or structural disorders (such as flat feet). Muscle-stretching, exercise and adequate water intake may help prevent leg cramps
The most common cause of nocturnal leg cramps is calcium deficiency. If you are postmenopausal, trying to lose weight, or don't consume enough calcium, you are vulnerable to developing leg cramps.
To relieve the pain of nocturnal leg cramps, flex your foot up (toes to ceiling) and hold until the cramping stops, apply heat and massage.
In 2005, the FDA approved the drug Requip (ropinirole) for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). While this is the first drug specifically approved for RLS, several other drugs have been approved for other conditions and have undergone clinical studies in RLS.
If you do need medication, careful trials may be necessary to find the medicine and dosage that works for you. Keep in mind that no one drug is effective for everyone with RLS. What may be helpful to one individual may actually worsen symptoms for another. And a medicine that worked for you in the past may become ineffective. You should talk with your doctor about RLS before taking any medication.
There are support groups all over the United States for those suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
You can find a list of support groups on the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation Web site at www.rls.org or check out each issue of NightWalkers, the RLS Foundation's quarterly newsletter that provides treatment updates from physicians, patients and scientists.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the organization within the Federal Government responsible for conducting and supporting research on RLS, there are two areas currently being studied to improve the condition of RLS. They are:
- the possible role of dopamine function in RLS. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between one area of the brain, the substantia nigra, and the next relay station of the brain, the corpus striatum, to produce smooth, purposeful muscle activity.
- Research on pallidotomy, a surgical procedure in which a portion of the brain called the globus pallidus is lesioned, may contribute to a greater understanding of the pathophysiology of RLS and may lead to a possible treatment. A recent study by NINDS-funded researchers showed that a patient with RLS and Parkinson's disease benefited from a pallidotomy and obtained relief from the limb discomfort caused by RLS. Additional research must be conducted to duplicate these results in other patients and to learn whether pallidotomy would be effective in RLS patients who do not also have Parkinson's disease.
Experts are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). However, here is what they do know at this point, courtesy of the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation:
- RLS most often occurs in middle-aged adults but has also been traced back to childhood for some sufferers
- RLS often runs in families
- RLS sometimes appears to be the result of another condition, which, when present, worsens the underlying RLS. This is called secondary RLS
- Up to 25 percent of women develop RLS during pregnancy, but the symptoms often disappear after giving birth
- Anemia and low iron levels can make RLS worse
- RLS is very common in patients who require dialysis for end-stage renal disease
- Damage to the nerves of the hands or feet from any number of causes, including diabetes, contributes to RLS
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is common in children and adults with RLS
|Sheri Ann Richerson|