Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome is a movement sleep disorder. It involves an intense urge to move your legs at bedtime for no cause. Restless legs syndrome, or RLS, symptoms vary from person to person and symptoms can sometimes be very hard to define.

Many patients describe their symptoms as their legs feeling creepy or crawly and different from a muscle cramp or muscle pain. Most often RLS occurs in the calves of patients and not the entire leg itself.

RLS restless legs syndromeRLS is described as getting worse when lying or sitting still while temporary relief is gained through stretching or moving the leg(s).

Some people with RLS have symptoms only at certain times. Others have them on a regular basis. Nightly symptoms can create a constant need to stretch or move the legs. This may prevent you from falling asleep or staying asleep. As a result, people with RLS often have poor sleep quality. They may be very tired during the day. They also may be unable to perform well at work or take part in social activities.

Sleepiness is only one daytime problem that RLS causes. RLS symptoms also can make it hard to travel by car or airplane during the day. This is because it is hard to sit still for long periods of time. RLS also may interfere with your ability to stay seated at movies, concerts, and in business meetings. The sleep loss and disturbance of daytime activities can even lead to anxiety and depression.

What causes restless leg syndrome (RLS)?

RLS may be hard to describe, but it is not a psychological or emotional condition. Researchers are unsure of its exact cause. Current studies are focused on a brain chemical known as dopamine. Medications that increase dopamine in the brain have been effective at relieving RLS symptoms.

Some people have medical conditions that seem to increase the chance of developing RLS. These conditions include the following:

  • Low blood iron levels
  • Poor blood circulation in the legs
  • Nerve problems in the spine or legs
  • Muscle disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies

RLS may also be inherited from a parent. If you have this form of RLS there is a good chance other members of the family arc affected. About 50% of people with RLS who don’t have one of the medical conditions listed above have a family member with similar symptoms. This strongly suggests a “hereditary” cause for this disorder in some people. For unknown reasons, hereditary cases of RLS tend to be more severe and harder to treat.

No matter what the cause, some medications may trigger RLS. These include over-the-counter allergy and cold medications. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use may make the condition worse.

Contact us today at (386) 423-0505 extension 1234 or email us for complete information on sleep disorders or a sleep study at one of our four sleep lab locations in Central Florida.