We have a viewer request to discuss a topic. The topic is RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome.
People describe the feelings that they get in their legs as burning, creeping, like insects crawling inside their legs. Doctors call these sensations paresthesias or dysesthesias, abnormal and unpleasant feelings. Patients move their legs in order to get rid of these feelings.
These sensations usually begin when someone lies down and tries to sleep. The result is difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. The result is exhaustion during the day and a very diminished quality of life. About 80% of people with RLS also have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). These are uncontrollable, jerky movements that occur during sleep and which also interrupt or disturb rest.
The cause of RLS is not always known. There is a family history of the disorder in 50% of cases. After investigation, it sometimes is associated with other diseases such as diabetes or iron deficiency anemia. Certain drugs can cause it such as antiseizure drugs or even cold or allergy medications. Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco may make the symptoms worse. Most often it is considered idiopathic-there is no known cause.
Treatment may be just as vague. A wide variety of medications have been shown to reduce symptoms. Drugs for Parkinson's disease are usually the first drugs to be tried. It becomes a trial and error hunt for what works for you. Lifestyle changes may help...exercise, changing sleep patterns, massages, and hot baths have all been helpful to some.
Like so many other of these 'vague' diseases, symptoms come and go. It is not a deadly disease and the other good news is that RLS is not an indication that you will develop another neurological disease.
Research into the mechanisms of RLS and PLMD is funded by the NIH and the RLS Foundation. For more information contact these organizations at: