Common Signs And Symptoms Of Rls
Leg discomfort combined with strong urge to move. Uncomfortable sensations deep within the legs, accompanied by a strong, often irresistible urge to move them.
Rest triggers the symptoms. The uncomfortable leg sensations start or become worse when youre sitting, lying down, or trying to relax.
Symptoms get worse at night. RLS typically flares up at night. In more severe cases, the symptoms may begin earlier in the day, but they become much more intense at bedtime.
Symptoms improve when you walk or move your legs. The relief continues as long as you keep moving.
Leg twitching or kicking while sleeping. Many people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder , which involves repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep.
The symptoms of RLS can range from mildly annoying to severely disabling. You may experience the symptoms only once in a while, such as times of high stress, or they may plague you every night. In severe cases of RLS, you may experience symptoms in your arms as well as your legs.
How Is It Treated
People suffering from RLS have many options, said Dr. Lee-Iannotti. There are pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods of treatment, depending on the severity of the symptoms. If mild, simple changes in lifestyle including increased exercise, improving sleep hygiene and avoiding caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol may be solutions. If moderate or severe, medications including dopaminergic drugs can be used to help relieve the discomfort and improve sleep.
Overall, the prognosis with proper treatment of RLS is good. Any condition that robs you of healthy sleep will lead to further complications. A tired brain is more likely to experience depression, anxiety and poor workplace performance. With time, these effects can damage your internal organs and physical health. Visit your doctor immediately to recover your ability to rest. In fact, restoring healthy sleep habits is key in reducing the symptoms of RLS.
What Does It Feel Like
People with Restless Legs Syndrome are usually prompted to move because they feel intense sensations in their legs. Below are some ways people have described what the sensations feel like, as reported by the Mayo Clinic:
RLS usually emerges or worsens at night.
Leg twitching or kicking may also result from a condition linked to RLS known as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. We will cover this in-depth further below.
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Levodopa And Other Dopaminergic Drugs
Dopaminergic drugs increase the availability of the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain and are one of the first-line treatments for severe RLS and PLMD. These drugs reduce the number of limb movements per hour and improve the subjective quality of sleep. People with either condition who take these drugs have experienced up to 100% initial reduction in symptoms.
Dopaminergic drugs, however, can have severe side effects . They do not appear to be as helpful for RLS related to dialysis as they do for RLS from other causes.
Dopaminergic drugs include dopamine precursors and dopamine receptor agonists.
The dopamine precursor levodopa was once a popular drug for severe RLS, although today it is usually recommended only for patients with occasional symptoms who may take it nightly as needed. It may also be helpful for long car rides or plane trips. The standard preparations combine levodopa with carbidopa, which improves the action and duration of levodopa and reduces some of its side effects, particularly nausea. Levodopa combinations are well tolerated and safe.
Levodopa acts fast, and the treatment is usually effective within the first few days of therapy.
A rebound effect causes increased leg movements at night or in the morning as the dose wears off, or as tolerance to the drug builds up.
Long-term use of dopaminergic drugs can lead to tolerance, in which the drugs become less effective.
Risk Factors For Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
About 6% of the general population has PLMD. However, the prevalence in older adults is much higher, reaching almost 60%. Studies suggest that PLMD may be especially common in older women. As with RLS, there are many conditions that are associated with PLMD. They include sleep apnea, spinal cord injuries, stroke, narcolepsy, and diseases that destroy nerves or the brain over time. Certain drugs, including some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, may also contribute to PLMD. About a third of people with PLMD also have RLS.
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Establishing A Treatment Plan For Restless Legs Syndrome
When treating RLS, doctors must consider the severity of the condition and the extent to which it affects your quality of life. Due to the potential for side effects, doctors may prefer to avoid prescribing medication for mild symptoms that dont interfere with day-to-day life.
Since RLS can occur on its own or as a result of another medical condition, treatment for RLS symptoms may need to be approached differently depending on the root cause. Before proceeding with RLS treatment, experts recommend looking for other conditions that could be causing or aggravating RLS symptoms. Common culprits include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Renal insufficiency
- Medication such as antihistamines and certain antidepressants
For many people, addressing these factors may lead to a drastic reduction in RLS symptoms. However, if symptoms are still bothersome, or if they interfere with sleep, doctors may advise additional remedies.
Pregnancy And Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome affects between 20% and 30% of pregnant women. A primary cause of this is, not surprisingly, iron deficiency. Iron is an essential part of nutrition while pregnant because of the higher risks of developing iron-deficiency anemia.
Between this and the previously mentioned connection between RLS and iron deficiency, its not hard to figure out that connection. Working with your doctor to make sure youre keeping your iron levels up, as well as other essential vitamins, can help alleviate these symptoms.
Also, as long as your health permits and your doctor gives you the green light, light exercise helps, too, whether its walks, aerobics or other types of lower body exercises that help keep those muscles stimulated.
The good news, says Dr. Berkowski, is that if RLS wasnt an issue for you before pregnancy, chances are itll eventually fade within a few months after your pregnancy is over.
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Restless Leg Syndrome In Children
There is thought to be a genetic link with restless legs syndrome, especially with primary restless legs syndrome . The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation reports that 35 percent of people with the condition say they first experienced symptoms before the age of 20, and that 1.5 million children and adolescents in the United States are believed to be affected.
Children with RLS are likely to be tired during the day, due to disturbed sleep. This can affect their performance in school, social functioning and interactions with peers and family.
RLS is usually diagnosed based on a personâs description of their symptoms. However, it can be difficult for children to express what they are experiencing and accurately report their symptom history. Children exhibiting twitching and fidgeting may be mistaken for having ADHD. There is research to suggest 25 percent of children with RLS or periodic limb movements in sleep may be misdiagnosed as having ADHD.
Enjoy A Soak In The Tub
Try taking a warm bath or shower, one of the more useful home remedies to help reduce restless leg syndrome. Warmth relaxes muscles and helps prevent spasms and twitching. Adding Epsom salts can reduce aches and pains. A warm bath can also help you wind down and set the stage for a restful night.
Relaxing Bath Additions
There are several essential oils, bath crystals, and other ingredients to add to bath water to make it a more relaxing experience. Lavender essential oil is known for its ability to ease you into slumber. Rose, chamomile, and eucalyptus can be similarly soothing. Baking soda and bentonite clay are other bath additives you might find beneficial. Experiment to find the bath add-ins that reduce your RLS complaints and help you get a relaxing night’s rest.
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Can You Take Cyclizine For Restless Leg Syndrome
Yes yes yes. Metoclopramide gives me restless legs when I get home after having chemo so I asked for Cyclizine the next time. Whilst I was actually having my chemo my restless legs were so bad I had to stand through the whole infusion. I have tried all sorts and have settled on a reduced Metoclopramide which has done the trick.
Is Restless Legs Syndrome Affecting Your Sleep
You may know it as the urge to move or jerk your legs when youre sitting or lying still, especially at night. Restless legs syndrome occurs when brain cells send false signals of pain, discomfort, tingling and itchiness to nerve endings in the legs . Moving your legs turns off these signals, but the creepy-crawly sensations return as soon as youre still again.
The syndrome is thought to result from an overproduction of the brain chemical dopamine during the day, which leads to an underproduction at night. Heres what to do if your itchy, jerking legs keep you awake at night.
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Skip Cigarettes And Nightcaps
Skip the Nightcap
It might be tempting to reach for a drink to help you slumber, but it’s actually counterproductive. Alcohol interferes with the quality of your sleep and may provoke sleep apnea, as well as symptoms of the condition at hand. Try a hot cup of tea or a warm glass of milk before bed instead. Herbal teas like chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower can help you relax and drift off to sleep. Having a cup of tea or warm milk before bed every evening can become a habit that helps you associate the activity with winding down. Make sure the tea you choose does not contain caffeine. Evening caffeine consumption is too stimulating and may keep you up at night. Milk is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s used to make the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin. Drinking a warm glass of milk before bedtime may give you the natural tryptophan boost you need to drift off to sleep.
Snuff Out the Cigarettes
Tobacco is another substance that can trigger RLS symptoms or make them worse. Smoking and tobacco aren’t good for anyone, especially if you have this disease. Nicotine is a stimulant that affects the nervous system. Abstain from nicotine use of all types including smoking cigarettes and cigars and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, nicotine gums and patches are available to help you wean off slowly. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting tobacco products.
Home Remedies To Stop The Restlessness Immediately
First, I would recommend completing any testing that your healthcare provider has recommended, and any abnormalities that are found should be corrected. The test provided by a medical healthcare provider is listed below. Hopefully, your testing has included an evaluation for vein disease. The first steps in stopping restless legs due to vein disease like venous insufficiency or pelvic vein compression are essentially home remedies and require no invasive procedures or conventional medications. They are as follows:
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How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Treated
Treatment of restless legs syndrome depends on the intensity of the symptoms. Treatment should be considered if quality of life is affected by insomnia and excessive daytime drowsiness. In cases of RLS due to ongoing medical disorders, specific treatment is also necessary.
Non-drug treatments. Non-drug treatments are tried first, especially if symptoms are mild. Non-drug treatments include:
- Getting regular exercise, such as riding a bike/stationary bike or walking, but avoiding heavy/intense exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
- Following good sleep habits, including avoiding reading, watching television or being on a computer or phone while lying in bed getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep and following other healthy sleep habits. Not getting enough sleep can worsen RLS symptoms.
- Avoiding or limiting caffeinated products , nicotine, and alcohol.
- Applying a heating pad, cold compress, or rubbing your legs to provide temporary relief to the leg discomfort. Also consider massage, acupressure, walking, light stretching or other relaxation techniques.
- Soak in a warm tub.
- Try magnesium supplements. They may be helpful.
- Reduce stress as much as possible. Try meditation, yoga, soft music or other options.
Iron supplementation. Iron deficiency is a reversible cause of RLS. If blood tests reveal you have low iron levels, your doctor may recommend taking an iron supplement.
You and your doctor will discuss the treatment that might be best for you.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder or PLMD is when a person experiences repetitive leg movements while asleep, disrupting their rest in the process. These movements typically occur in the lower half of the body in the hips, knees, ankle, or big toes. About 80 percent of individuals with Restless Legs Syndrome also experience PLMD.
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Restless Legs Syndrome Medication
Medication is currently considered the gold standard for people with moderate to severe RLS. To reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects, always work with a doctor to find the medication thats right for you.
People with RLS resulting from another condition, or those with another consideration such as pregnant women, children, people with anxiety or depression, or individuals with kidney disease, may need to exercise extra caution when taking medication.
RLS can be treated with several different families of medications, the most common being dopamine agonists and anti-seizure drugs.
Warm Compresses Can Be Soothing
Heated or cooled pads, often used to relieve swelling caused by injuries and other conditions, have a long history as a home remedy. Dr. Berkowski says they can be effective by creating a new sensation for the brain to process, reducing the uncomfortable sensation produced by restless legs syndrome.
You can buy an inexpensive cold or warm compress at a store, but the simplest way to make one is to soak fabric in cold or warm water and place it against your skin.
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Hot And Cold Foot Soak
For the reduction of legs cramps and for easing the pain that comes with RLS, you can try alternating hot and cold soaks of your feet and/or legs. To use this method, fill two large buckets, one with hot water and one with cold water. Put both of your feet in the bucket of cold water for three minutes, then put them in the bucket filled with hot water for three minutes. Repeat this three or four times, ending with the hot water. Try this method each night about one hour before bed.
Avoid Extended Periods Of Inactivity
Sitting still for too long can make the symptoms of RLS worse, so try to break up periods of sitting with movement or stretches.
- Find or create a work setting where you can be active. If you work at an office, look into a desk that lets you stand and type, or walk while talking on the phone.
- Tell friends, family, and coworkers why you have to move around more than others. Theyll likely try to accommodate you and want to help you create a healthy environment.
- Schedule activities that may require long periods of sittingsuch as car journeys, flights, or waiting for appointmentsin the morning rather than late in the day.
- Choose an aisle seat at movies and on planes so that you can get up and move.
- Give yourself stretch breaks at work and during long car rides.
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What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome
According to Dr. Berkowski, restless legs syndrome is mostly a sensation problem with your brain, not your legs. But those issues do affect the muscles and nerves in your legs. Its not 100% a brain issue, but it does cause these abnormal sensations in the leg area, he says.
While there are a few potential causes, Dr. Berkowski points out these two main causes:
- Genetics. While much about the genetic components that cause RLS arent fully understood, studies indicate that certain genes do elevate the risk of having RLS. Additionally, studies have shown that those with RLS have a high likelihood of having a first-degree family member who also has the condition.
- Iron deficiency. Low iron levels can affect how the brain processes the sensations that lead to those RLS symptoms, Dr. Berkowski says. And iron levels drop at nighttime which is one reason why RLS is worse at night.
Certain prescription medications can relieve RLS symptoms, including anti-seizure medications. But there are also several things you can do at home to help relieve these symptoms.
How To Stop Restless Legs Immediately
Once again, it is time for bed but instead of falling asleep, youre tossing and turning, trying to get your legs comfortable and relaxed. Your partner sighs, obviously aware of your near-constant wiggling. You wonder if either of you will ever get another good nights rest.
This is a story I hear regularly in my vascular clinic, although many people see multiple specialists before winding up in my office. Restless legs are not always a result of circulation issues, but for many people, it is the main cause of their symptoms. Deciphering those symptoms will help you determine how to stop restless legs, now.
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