Leg Pain

Getting Around with RLS

RLS, (restless legs syndrome) is a very common condition that affects the nervous system of the legs. RLS causes the person to feel the need to constantly move their legs, and it can cause discomfort in their feet, thighs and calves.

People often report that it is reminiscent of a creeping sensation, one akin to insects crawling up and down their leg.

RLS symptoms vary in severity and length, and the majority of the people do not need to seek medical help for their condition.

However, in some cases the condition becomes extremely distressing and it can interfere with daily routine and responsibilities. The following article shall examine this condition and detail how it can be treated.

Causes

The occurrence of this condition varies. Some people experience symptoms infrequently while others encounter it on a daily basis. For most people who suffer RLS, there is no obvious cause for the condition. This is known as primary RLS, or idiopathic RLS. It is believed by some experts that the symptoms of primary RLS are directly related to low levels of dopamine in the body.

Dopamine is a naturally produced chemical that we use to control our muscles, and a lack of this chemical could explain a lack of control in the legs. Other cases of RLS are the result of a separate health condition, such as kidney failure or a deficiency of some sort. This type of RLS is often referred to as secondary RLS.

Doctors have also found a link between pregnancy and RLS, and it is reported that up to one in five women will experience some if not all symptoms of RLS during the last three months of their pregnancy. However, Doctors are not completely sure as to why this happens.

Getting Around with RLS

Who is affected by RLS?

Restless leg syndrome will affect up to one in ten people at some stage of their life. Usually the condition will occur for a number of days or weeks before disappearing and never returning. Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to suffer from RLS than men, and it is more likely for the condition to develop during a person’s middle age. RLS can develop at any age, and this includes during childhood.

Symptoms

People who suffer from RLS all report experiencing similar symptoms including the urge to move their legs and a discomfort in their legs, which can sometimes spread to other limbs, their chest and their face. This discomfort is described as being a tingling or burning sensation, but it can also feel like the leg in question is throbbing or is very itchy.

People with the condition has reported feeling a similar discomfort in their veins as if their blood is pressurized and moving around their body at a rapid rate. Nearly all RLS sufferers report experiencing cramps that fluctuate in pain, from mild to moderate to severe. They also report that symptoms are generally worse at night and in the evening.

However, the rate of occurrence and when the condition affects the individual differs, with some complaining of experiencing it in the morning and afternoon. Moving your legs or rubbing them with your hands can relive the discomfort experienced during RLS incidents. Around half of people with RLS have some form of lower back pain.

Treatment of RLS

How the condition is treated will depend on the cause. For instance, if the individual suffers from a mild case and they have no apparent health problems then they will most likely be required to examine their lifestyle and diet and make appropriate changes to that. Doctors recommend that people with RLS quit smoking and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

It is also recommended that the individual regularly engage in physical exercise. If there is an underlying health problem then this will be first be addressed. The corrective treatment of the health issue should rectify the RLS, but if it persists then the Doctor may begin to consider administering medication to regulate the levels of dopamine found in the individual’s body.

It’s important for the individual to establish a set sleeping pattern that they can stick to. Interrupted or unconventional sleeping patterns can cause the body to becoming jittery and can lead to an increase in restless leg syndrome symptoms. People are advised to avoid napping during the day and instead go to bed and get at the same time each day.

This will ensure that your body is getting the rest it needs and it will help to keep the symptoms under control. If you are experiencing a particularly severe RLS attack then there are a number of things you can do to relieve the pain and discomfort. Massaging your legs or having someone massage them will help, as will having a hot bath in the evening.

Hot and cold compresses are great at countering symptoms, and engaging in distractive activities such as reading or watching a film will help keep your mind off the condition. Walking and stretching is another way to combat the symptoms, and is has been suggested that cycling is particularly effective at keeping discomfort to a minimum.

Conclusion 

Restless leg syndrome is a very common condition that can affect people of all ages. It typically manifests itself in people as an irritable urge to move their legs and feet due to a discomfort or pain they are feeling. This discomfort can spread to other limbs and will cause the skin to feel like it is burning or itchy.

The condition is not life threatening, but it can be extremely frustrating to deal with, especially if the case is particularly severe. There a number of treatments available depending on the cause of the condition, and the best thing all RLS sufferers can do is ensure that they have a good sleeping pattern as this can counter symptoms.

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