Restless leg syndrome, sometimes shortened to restless leg, is an uncomfortable and often painful disorder. Restless leg syndrome causes a constant urge to move or shake your legs in order to stop very unpleasant sensations. Not only is it uncomfortable during the day, but it is often worse at night when you are trying to sleep. This can make it nearly impossible to get any kind of sleep, or take you a very long time to fall asleep.
Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
In most people, the exact cause of restless leg syndrome goes unseen. However, some people do have more risk factors. First of all, it occurs much more often in individuals middle aged and older. Stress can worsen restless leg syndrome as well. Other risk factors include diabetes, iron deficiency, chronic kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, pregnancy, withdrawal from sedatives, and taking medications or stimulants like calcium channel blockers, caffeine, lithium, or neuroleptics. It is also a genetic condition that can be passed down between families. It can also occur in people with insomnia.
Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
The sensations felt from restless leg syndrome are usually felt between your ankle and your knee which can be very uncomfortable and cause you to move your legs constantly. The sensations are more intense at night when you’re lying down, but can also occur during the day if you’re sitting for long periods of time. They can last an hour or longer and also occur in the upper leg, arms, or feet. The sensations are often described as crawling, creeping, pulling, tingling, searing, aching, or bubbling. Upon feeling these sensations, you suddenly have the urge to move your legs or get up and walk around. This makes it very difficult to get good sleep along with sitting in the car for too long or being in long meetings or classes.
Diagnosing Restless Leg Syndrome
While there is no test for restless leg syndrome, explaining your symptoms to your doctor should be enough to properly diagnose you. However your doctor may perform certain tests to rule out other medical conditions that might be causing the sensations you’re experiencing. A physical examination is usually enough to diagnose restless leg syndrome.
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
While there is no cure for restless leg syndrome, there are different methods that help treat the condition and lessen the symptoms. This includes leg massage, stretching exercises, taking a warm bath, and taking medications to control the symptoms such as Mirapex or Requip.