Restless Leg Syndrome
If you experience an overwhelming and often uncomfortable urge to move your legs while at rest, you are not alone. One in ten adults suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), which can cause trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep studies can help diagnose RLS.
What causes Restless Leg Syndrome
RLS is a common neurological disorder that can occur in adults and children. Both men and women get RLS, but incidence of the syndrome is about twice as high in women. Symptoms of RLS become more frequent and last longer with age.
RLS causes unpleasant sensations and an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. Symptoms of RLS typically appear while you are at rest and grow worse throughout the night. Keeping your legs still tends to trigger restlessness, while moving your legs eases symptoms. Symptoms of RLS can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Eight out of ten people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), which causes involuntary jerking or twitching of your legs during sleep. Twitching and jerking occurs repeatedly through the night, disrupting sleep.
Because of PLMD and the uncomfortable symptoms associated with RLS, people with restless leg syndrome experience poor sleep quality that results in reduced quality of life.
To diagnose RLS, your doctor will pay close attention to your description of your symptoms, including a description of what triggers and relieves your symptoms, a neurological and physical exam, the medications you take and your sleep patterns.
The O2 Pulmonary & Sleep Group performs sleep studies to rule out other sleep conditions as the source of your poor sleep quality. Our sleep studies can also identify other underlying conditions, like sleep apnea, which may affect treatment for RLS.
Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment
Treatment for RLS focuses on relieving symptoms. Moving your legs may help, for example, and so can changing or maintaining a regular sleep pattern. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing intake of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can relieve symptoms. Moderate exercise, hot baths, and leg massages can alleviate symptoms of RLS. These treatments effectively alleviate symptoms, but they do not eliminate RLS.
Restless Leg Syndrom Medication
Medications also provide temporary relief from RLS and no single medication effectively relieves symptoms for all patients. You may have to try different drugs over time.