When your legs ache, you can usually lie down and relax to alleviate your symptoms. But for people who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS for short), relaxing only makes them hurt more. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 12 million Americans are suffering from RLS, which is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them in an effort to relieve these sensations. The intensity of symptoms, which may occur either occasionally or regularly, ranges from irritating to painful, and the sensations are often described as burning, tingling, or tugging feelings deep inside the leg, commonly between the knee and ankle. RLS affects people of all ages, but it is most common in people middle-aged or older.|
Although no cause for RLS has been found, research is underway. Some recent findings include:
To most people suffering from RLS, even more bothersome than the pain and sensations are the secondary symptoms. Exhaustion and daytime fatigue are constant struggles, as RLS makes sleeping difficult, but can also affect relationships and job performance, as well as general quality of life. RLS doesn’t usually get better on its own, so getting treatment is the imperative first step to getting a good night’s sleep. Here are some ways RLS may be treated:
About 50% of cases occur in people with a family history of RLS.
Low iron levels or anemia may trigger symptoms in some people.
Some chronic conditions, like kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy, have been correlated with RLS.
Symptoms may arise during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester, but usually disappear within a month after delivery.
Certain medications may aggravate RLS.
Using caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may aggravate symptoms in some people.