What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neural-related condition that makes an individual experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs, usually after sitting for long periods of time. These sensations are often described as creeping, crawling, tingling or burning feelings and can make it difficult to sleep at night. The severity of RLS symptoms varies from person to person. This condition does not only affect Fort Lauderdale residents, but it is also a worldwide issue. In fact, about 10% of the population suffer from this condition. As a result, it is important that you better understand the common symptoms, causes, and internal medicine specialists available for efficient treatment.
What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?
It is still uncertain about what actually causes restless legs syndrome. However, there are a few arguments out there that may help to explain this disorder. Some doctors suggest that problems with the central nervous system may cause RLS. Others blame it on low levels of iron in the blood. Finally, some researchers believe that imbalances in certain neurotransmitters may lead to restless legs syndrome. No matter what the cause of RLS may be, experts know that some things can trigger or worsen symptoms. Some of these common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, stress, smoking and lack of sleep. Additionally, exposure to extreme temperatures can also aggravate symptoms.
In addition, pregnancy also causes restless legs syndrome. Health practitioners have estimations that about one in every five pregnant women may develop symptoms in the last pregnancy trimester with no clear explanation as to why it happens. However, the condition usually ends after the child’s birth. It’s essential to note that this condition affects anyone. However, women are more likely to get affected, with their affection rate being double that of men. Furthermore, the age group between 20-50 years is more prone to infection of this disease.
How Does Lack of Iron Lead to Restless Legs Syndrome?
Iron is an essential body component for its proper functioning. It plays a key role in creating red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. People who lack enough iron in their system can experience various problems as there will be fewer red blood cells to transport oxygen. As a result, an individual may develop anemia resulting in symptoms like fatigue, weakness and restless legs syndrome.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
The disease has several signs and symptoms that can help you determine whether or not you have the disorder. Knowing these symptoms is crucial because they may indicate an underlying condition such as Parkinson’s disease, which needs attention.
The primary symptom is an uncomfortable feeling in the lower limbs, particularly the calves (and sometimes thighs). This uncomfortable feeling seems to be relieved by moving or walking. Additionally, this issue often occurs at night when people try to sleep, making falling asleep difficult. Other common symptoms include unpleasant crawling sensations in legs, strange feelings like “pins and needles”, and a sense of unease may also occur while lying down, sitting still for long periods of time or standing up after prolonged sitting or resting on one’s backside. It can vary from mild discomforting leg cramps to a severe and disabling problem.
It is possible to manage these symptoms permanently. This happens if doctors detect and treat the disease early enough. However, failure to timely detect the disease can have dire consequences. For instance, the symptoms may occasionally worsen with time and have a negative impact on the person’s quality of life where the disease is unclear to the doctor. Notably, this disease is not life-threatening, although severe instances may cause conditions such as sleeplessness, depression and anxiety.
Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome
Four main types of treatment options for restless legs syndrome are available, namely lifestyle changes, medications, medical devices, and surgery.
• Lifestyle Changes. One of the major treatment methods for RLS is making lifestyle changes. These changes include getting regular exercise, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and eating a balanced diet. These changes can help improve symptoms in some people.
• Medications. There are many different types of medications that can be used to treat RLS. Some common remedies include dopaminergic drugs, iron supplements, and anticonvulsants. Visit a doctor who will work with you to find the best medication based on your individual needs.
• Medical Devices. There are several medical devices usable in RLS treatment. One common device is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS), which sends electrical impulses to the nerves to improve symptoms. Another device is a wearable compression garment, which applies pressure to the legs and helps relieve symptoms.
• Surgery. Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to treat restless legs syndrome. This includes things like deep brain stimulation or peripheral nerve ablation. It’s the doctor’s duty to assess you to determine if surgery is your best option.
No single treatment works for everyone with restless legs syndrome, which explains why doctors usually use a combination of two or more treatment options.