What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (also referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disease) affects fewer than 20,000 people in the UK per year; the rarity of the syndrome creates a little bit of mystery surrounding it, which Restless Leg Awareness Day aims to tackle.
What are the effects of restless leg syndrome?
RLS causes an uncontrollable desire to move your legs, often associating the movement with the feeling of relief from an uncomfortable sensation which may or may not be present within the legs. For many, this is worsened at night or after long periods of rest, such as on a flight, a long car journey etc. Less typically, RLS can also affect the arms also, although this is reported at a much lesser rate.
The effects are mostly felt within the limb, rather than an affecting topical sensation. Many sufferers have reported sensations of throbbing, aching, crawling and pulling within the affected limbs. This isn’t to be confused with a typical leg cramp!
What causes restless leg syndrome?
The root cause of RLS isn’t very clear – most people who experience the syndrome have no apparent triggers for why they started to feel the effects. It is theorised that this is related to a lack of dopamine within the brain, although this is yet to be formally investigated and confirmed as a cause. Some develop the symptoms whilst pregnant, although most do lose them once their pregnancy has ended. Others report that the start of their symptoms correlate with the start of a particular medication, or that it is associated with their development of one of the below illnesses:
- Kidney Failure
- Iron & Magnesium deficiency
- Spinal Cord issues
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Parkinson’s Disease
How can one manage RLS?
Due to the rarity of the condition, and a lack of knowledge or awareness, it isn’t as easy as taking a pill to fully alleviate the symptoms. The NHS recommends the below methods in an attempt to soothe the effects of RLS:
- Avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine in the evening
- Taking a hot bath
- Cold/Hot alternating compress
- Have a look into supplements for deficiencies
- A daily exercise routine
- Avoiding medications which worsen the effects (consult your GP)
- Relaxation exercises, such as yoga and stretching
- Mental stimulation via reading, watching television etc.
- Good sleep habits and sleep hygiene
We’re supportive of Restless Leg Awareness Day in an effort to support the outreach of information to those who may be affected by RLS or feel that they need a little more information on it.
If you need further support and you are personally experiencing RLS, book in with your GP who can offer further support and some medications which could help with your condition.
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