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Restless Leg Syndrome – What It Is, Symptoms and Treatments

by: Andrew Bicknell

Restless leg syndrome is a painful and mentally frustrating condition that affects millions of people around the world. It affects approximately 10% of the current United States population. Anyone can be affected by it, young, old, men, and women have all suffered from it affects. The symptoms of restless leg syndrome can range from mild annoyance to extremely painful. Finding the right treatment can take some trial and error, but by working with a licensed physician relief can be had.

Although research into the causes of restless leg syndrome is ongoing at this time there is no specific known cause. There is conjecture that a neurological disorder or chemical imbalance in the brain, notably the chemical dopamine, is responsible for the symptoms of RLS. Dopamine is responsible for the nerve impulses that control muscle movement.

When trying to find a treatment for restless leg syndrome one must remember that the majority of scientific research points to a problem with brain chemistry as the root cause of RLS. It is believed that because of this chemical imbalance that the brain sends messages to legs that stimulate the nerves into feeling or sensing that something is crawling around and stimulating the legs into movement to rectify the situation. This brain chemistry imbalance leads many doctors and researchers to believe that one way to treat restless leg syndrome is with a proper diet. Research has shown that caffeine may cause some of the signals that the brain sends to the legs causing the crawling tingling sensations. For some people limiting or completely stopping caffeine consumption has help lessen the symptoms.

Many people with mild symptoms of restless leg syndrome are simply able to get out of bed and walk around to relieve their symptoms. People with more severe forms of the condition will usually need to find more aggressive routes of relief for their symptoms. Sometimes taking a warm bath helps to sooth and improve blood flow to the lower legs relieving the affected area. This will usually allow the RLS sufferer to return to bed and get a good night sleep.

A heating pad can also provide the same relief as a warm bath. The key to both these treatments for restless leg syndrome is improving blood flow to the affected area. Using a liniment to rub on your legs may also provide the same relief as other methods described above. The heating action of the liniment and the rubbing or massaging of the legs will help promote the blood flow to the area and sooth the area.

Restless leg syndrome occurs when a person’s legs become extremely uncomfortable and is characterized by unpleasant sensations such as burning, creeping, and tugging, much like having insects crawling around just under the skin of the legs. The interesting thing is getting up and walking around usually does help mitigate the symptoms to the point where the person suffering them can go back to bed and fall asleep. In more severe cases though, medical intervention and treatment may be needed.

There are several major symptoms that accompany restless leg syndrome the most notable of which is the time during which it tends to occur. Periodic limb movements (PLMS) are another symptom that can occur with restless leg syndrome. PLMS is involuntary twitching and kicking of the legs while asleep. Normally the PLMS sufferer is unaware that they are doing it, but anyone sharing the bed with is more then aware that this is occurring. In severe cases of restless leg syndrome these muscle twitches can occur when awake.

Because restless leg syndrome strikes as people are relaxing or trying to go to sleep, many find they have a hard time getting the rest they need. Insomnia is a big problem for people who suffer from restless leg syndrome. Even sneaking in a midday nap can get to be impossible of the recurring RLS.

If your restless leg syndrome symptoms continue or worsen even with the treatment methods described above it is important to consult a doctor. A licensed physician can help identify the root cause of the problem and provide treatment options that will help resolve this condition. If you or someone you know may be suffering from restless leg syndrome it is best to consult with a doctor.

To learn more about restless leg syndrome, its treatment and coping strategies click here.

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