If you have ever tried to sleep but have problems keeping your legs in one place, you may have a case of Restless Leg Syndrome (also known as RLS). It is an uncontrollable urge or feeling to move the legs. This condition causes its host not to be able to keep his or her legs idle, even during sleep.
It is believed that it may not be unconnected to some motor issues or a severe case of neurological issues. Scientific research hasn’t yet adequately confirmed it, though.
Understanding The Impact Of Restless Leg Syndrome
RSL is said to be common in the evening or nighttime when one is sitting, or lying down; most times, it can disrupt one’s drifting process just before sleep. Anyone with this condition would not be able to explain why they keep moving their legs.
This is because the urge overwhelms them. So, until they move their legs, the urge, which is mostly unpleasant, never goes away. Although moving ends the feeling, it is said that it only does this temporarily.
RSL is also known as Willis-Ekpom disease. Experts have stated that age is not a risk factor, as it has been seen in children and young adults, as well as in the elderly. However, generally, RSL worsens as one ages.
Severe cases of RSL can interfere with one’s daily life and disrupt one’s processes. It can go as far as disrupting sleep, as the feeling continues even in deep sleep, and the sufferer continues to move their legs till they wake up and become fully awake.
Some simple self-care Simple self-care measures and lifestyle changes may help relieve some of the symptoms. Ultimately, medications have been seen to help many people living with RLS.
What Are The Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome?
One of the principal symptoms of this condition is the restless urge to keep moving one’s legs. Once you notice that this is the case when you cannot explain why your legs just want you to move them, it is important that you do not let it fester, as early detection and management are key to its prognosis and eventual healing.
People with RLS would experience a sensation that usually begins while resting. This sensation classically starts after one has laid down, been relaxed, or sat for a while. It could be in a car, airplane, superstore, or even in the cinema.
Persons with RLS would notice that the movement begins to lessen with movements such as jiggling the legs, pacing, walking, or simply stretching or twitching the fingers. This mostly happens at night, when the body has gone to sleep.
This is why nighttime leg twitching is also associated with RLS, which has also been linked with a common condition called periodic limb movement of sleep, which causes the legs to twitch and kick most times throughout the night, even while you sleep.
The legs are mostly affected, but most people have had symptoms affect their hands as well. But this is less common.
The sensations can be crawling, creeping, pulling, itching, electric, or aching. Sometimes, the sensations are just too difficult to explain, just like hunger.
It is different from muscle cramps or numbness. There is just a constant (sometimes unconscious) desire to move the legs. The symptoms have also been identified by health experts as fluctuating or going away for a while, but they may become severe or intensify at other times.
Causes Of Restless Leg Syndrome
In many cases, the exact cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown. Many health experts and neuroscientists have tried to explain using scientific methods why a person may have the constant urge to move but have not been able to do so.
However, when no exact cause, like trauma, can be found, it is referred to as idiopathic or primary restless leg syndrome.
🔶 Heredity, Age
Health research has suggested specific genes related to Restless Leg Syndrome. Chief among them is heredity. It has been shown that RLS can run in families and usually occurs before the age of 40.
The lack of dopamine has also been identified as a cause of restless leg syndrome. Feelings of happiness, contentment, and drive are all made possible by dopamine. When one feels good, especially after a feat, it is because of the surge of dopamine in the brain.
A lack of this reward center can be the beginning of RLS, as it has been identified to run a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which uses a chemical or neurotransmitter called dopamine to help control muscle activity and movement.
Dopamine also acts as a messenger between the brain and nervous system to help the brain regulate and coordinate movement.
Dopamine production in the brain is diminished by nerve cell death. This has been seen to cause muscle spasms and involuntary movements.
Research has also shown that dopamine levels naturally fall towards the end of the day, which may explain why the symptoms of restless legs syndrome are often worse in the evening and during the night.
🔶 Underlying Health Conditions
Restless legs syndrome can sometimes occur as a complication of another health condition, like kidney disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia, or it can be the result of another health-related factor.
This condition is commonly referred to as secondary restless leg syndrome.
🔶 Iron Deficiency
One can have RLS if one has a low level of iron in the blood.
Medications like antidepressants, some antipsychotics, and lithium are used in the treatment of bipolar, and antihistamines have been linked to causing RLS.
Other possible triggers include excessive caffeine or alcohol, smoking, obesity, or stress.