How is Restless Legs Syndrome defined?
There may be a time when we have experienced going to sleep at night and suddenly a dull, uncomfortable feeling creeps up our legs. The unpleasant sensations then makes it hard for us to go to sleep. Often, it would also make us toss and turn trying to find a good position and hoping the feeling would go away.
The sensations you may be experiencing is Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS. It is defined as a neurological disorder that disrupts sleep due to an unpleasant urge to move the legs constantly. The other term for this disorder is Willis-Ekbom disease. RLS commonly happens during the night especially when getting comfortable to fall asleep. It can also often happen during late afternoons or any time we’re resting or is inactive for long hours. Doing small movements or walking can usually relieve the symptoms, but can often resurface once the individual is immobile again.
Restless Legs Syndrome can affect anyone at any time. About 10 percent of Americans have developed Restless Legs Syndrome and is particularly seen in women and children. However, as a person’s age increases, the more likely symptoms of this disorder would become more frequent.
Why does Restless Legs Syndrome happen?
For most people, the factors causing Restless Legs Syndrome is not known. It is reported that the disorder is contributed by genetic factors and that is seen in an individual’s family history. However, there are certain factors that also increases the risk of getting Restless Legs Syndrome like:
- Has significant deficiency in iron
- Taking specific medications that can affect the neurological system like antidepressants or antihistamine
- Excessive substance abuse like drugs, alcohol and cigarette smoking
- Has renal disease and is at the last phase or hemodialysis
- Damage to the nerve tissues
- Pregnancy especially during the last trimester
How is Restless Legs Syndrome recognized?
People with RLS would usually find it hard to describe the condition. However, one primary symptom of RLS is the irresistible and overwhelming impulse to move the legs. Other symptoms would include:
- When there are sensations that begin immediately after resting or being inactive
The sensations can already be felt even if you’ve just gotten comfortable sitting or lying down like on an airplane or in a movie theater.
- Leg twitching that occurs every night
When your legs start twitching and kicking at night when you are in bed. This can often lead to another common neurological condition called periodic limb movement.
- Symptoms that worsen every night
When RLS symptoms become more and more frequent every night
- When finding ways to relieve symptoms become frequent
When making various leg movements like stretching, pacing, walking or jiggling the legs become something that happens every time.
How can Restless Legs Syndrome be treated?
In many cases, doctors often find it difficult to pinpoint the symptoms of RLS. This is also why people with Restless Legs Syndrome would hold off treatment because it is not something to be worried about. There are also certain medications that would be prescribed to the patient in order to lessen the symptoms. Moreover, a person with severe Restless Legs Syndrome would often be treated due to an underlying health issues like kidney problems, diabetes or iron deficiency.
However, there are treatment options that would also incline to natural methods. Below are seven alternative methods to relieve symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome:
- Practicing meditation and deep breathing methods
Stress is one of the many factors that can increase risks of restless legs syndrome. Not only that, the symptoms can even get worse as levels of stress increases. It is a good idea to exercise deep breathing, meditation and other kinds of relaxation techniques like yoga to lower anxiety and lessen RLS symptoms.
- Keep an active and fit lifestyle
As mentioned, RLS can be triggered when we are in a sedentary position for long periods. It is no surprise that exercise can counter the condition. Do moderate exercises regularly for about 45 minutes to one hour to prevent occurrences of restless leg syndrome and reduce symptoms. One type of exercise that can help significantly is doing stretches. However, it is important to note that working out at night or before bed is ill-advised when you have restless legs syndrome.
- Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet
Often, the food we eat would dictate our emotions through our brain activity. Similarly, it holds true for restless leg syndrome. To solve the problem, include more green, leafy vegetables in your meals as well as ample amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals, essential fats and other foods that are nutritious. Moreover, a diet rich in iron is highly recommended as iron deficiency is also a cause of RLS.
- Splurging in body and leg massages
Massages are great for the body. To help relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, a good leg massage is also an ideal solution. This is because of the additional blood circulation that helps the muscles to relax and give a soothing feeling in the body.
Aside from massages, this ancient remedy is also a good suggestion to keep restless legs syndrome at bay. There isn’t any scientific evidence that supports the effectivity of this remedy. However, many people who opt for non-medical treatments would select this option.
- Adjusting sleeping schedules
There are evidence that points to bedtime schedules being able to help lessen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. It is said that sleeping in late in the morning and early in the night can reduce the unpleasant feelings of restless legs. This is because of the high levels of cortisol from adequate amounts of sleep.
- Taking a warm, soothing bath
Indulge yourself in a warm bath or shower an hour before bed every night and symptoms of restless legs syndrome will significantly decrease. This is because warm baths help relax the muscles to lessen muscle spasms. You can also add salts or essential oils to your bath for a more soothing effect.
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