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What Medicines Can Cause Restless Leg Syndrome

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You Feel A Strong Urge To Move Your Legs You May Not Be Able To Resist

People who feel this urge say the need to move their legs is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include creeping, itching, pulling, tugging, or gnawing. This is one of the criteria necessary for diagnosis, so if you don’t have it, you may not have restless legs syndrome.

What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome

Many different symptoms are described by people with restless leg syndrome, for example:

  • leg pain,
  • burning, and
  • aching.

The characteristic nighttime worsening of symptoms in persons with restless legs syndrome frequency leads to insomnia. Because of lack of sleep, children and some adults may be very drowsy, irritable, and aggressive during daytime hours.

Restless leg syndrome usually begins slowly. Over time, the legs become more affected. Less frequently, restless leg syndrome can affect the arms.

What Is The Treatment For Restless Leg Syndrome Is There A Cure

Treatment of restless leg syndrome is first directed toward any underlying illness, if known. For example:

  • Blood testing to reveal underlying iron deficiency anemia may reveal the underlying cause.
  • If varicose veins are thought to be the cause, then surgery to repair the circulation may be considered.
  • Reduction or elimination of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol from a person’s diet can be very helpful.
  • Stopping smoking can significantly diminish or prevent symptoms.
  • Getting better sleep and exercise can help some persons affected by restless legs.
  • Pregnant women who do not sleep well at night and other people with sleep disorders may develop RLS.

There is no cure for restless leg syndrome; however, the condition usually responds well to home remedies and medications. The outlook is excellent for people with restless leg syndrome as long as it does not weaken or damage the function of the legs.

What Is The Prognosis For People With Restless Legs Syndrome

RLS is generally a lifelong condition for which there is no cure.  However, current therapies can control the disorder, minimize symptoms, and increase periods of restful sleep.  Symptoms may gradually worsen with age, although the decline may be somewhat faster for individuals who also suffer from an associated medical condition.  A diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease.  In addition, some individuals have remissions—periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, months, or years—although symptoms often eventually reappear.  If RLS symptoms are mild, do not produce significant daytime discomfort, or do not affect an individual’s ability to fall asleep, the condition does not have to be treated.  

How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosed Do I Need Any Tests

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

A doctor will usually make the diagnosis of RLS from the typical symptoms. There is no test to prove the diagnosis. A doctor may do some tests to rule out a secondary cause. For example, you would normally have a blood test to check for a lack of iron and to rule out kidney disease. In some cases further tests may be needed if the diagnosis is not clear.

Diet Recommendations For People With Restless Leg Syndrome

There aren’t any specific dietary guidelines for people with RLS. But it’s a good idea to review your diet to make sure you’re getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients. Try to cut high-calorie processed foods with little or no nutritional value.

Some people with symptoms of RLS are deficient in particular vitamins and minerals. If that’s the case, you can make some changes to your diet or take dietary supplements. It all depends on what your test results show.

If you’re deficient in iron, try adding more of these iron-rich foods to your diet:

  • dark green leafy vegetables

Those strange sensations in your legs can be uncomfortable or painful. And those symptoms can make it almost impossible to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sleep deprivation and fatigue are dangerous to your health and well-being.

In addition to working with your doctor to find relief, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of restful sleep:

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 don’t 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.

Restless Arm Restless Body And Other Related Conditions

It’s called restless “leg” syndrome, but it can also affect your arms, trunk, or head. Both sides of the body are usually involved, but some people have it on only one side. Despite these differences, it’s the same disorder.

About 80 percent of people with RLS also have periodic limb movement of sleep . This causes involuntary leg twitching or jerking during sleep that can last all night long.

Peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, and kidney failure cause symptoms like RLS. Treating the underlying condition often helps.

Many people with Parkinson’s disease also have RLS. But most people who have RLS don’t go on to develop Parkinson’s. The same medications can improve symptoms of both conditions.

It’s not uncommon for people with multiple sclerosis to have sleep disturbances, including restless legs, limbs, and body. They’re also prone to muscles spasms and cramps. Medication used to combat fatigue associated with chronic diseases can also cause this. Medication adjustments and home remedies may help.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of RLS. It usually resolves on its own after the baby is born.

Anyone can have occasional leg cramps or strange sensations that come and go. When symptoms interfere with sleep, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Be sure to mention any underlying health conditions.

Other Conditions Associated With Restless Legs Syndrome

The following medical conditions are also associated with RLS, although the relationships are not clear. In some cases, these conditions may contribute to RLS. Others may have a common cause, or they may coexist due to other risk factors:

  • Osteoarthritis . About three-quarters of patients with RLS also have osteoarthritis, a common condition affecting older adults.
  • Varicose veins. Varicose veins occur in about 1 in 7 patients with RLS.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes may have higher rates of secondary RLS. Nerve pain related to their diabetes cannot fully explain the higher rate of RLS.
  • Hypertension .
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
  • Chronic alcoholism.
  • Sleep apnea and snoring.
  • Chronic headaches.
  • Brain or spinal injuries.
  • Many muscle and nerve disorders. Of particular interest is hereditary ataxia, a group of genetic diseases that affects the central nervous system and causes loss of motor control. Researchers believe that hereditary ataxia may supply clues to the genetic causes of RLS.
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder .
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as depression.

Common Problems With Diagnosing Restless Legs Syndrome

Many cases go undiagnosed because:

  • Many people do not seek a doctor’s help when they have symptoms.
  • Most people visit a doctor during the day, when symptoms are not present or are only mild.
  • Some doctors do not recognize the condition and may believe that the symptoms are caused by other conditions, such as insomnia, stress, muscle cramps, or arthritis.

Restless legs syndrome does occur in children but it is hard to diagnose for the same reasons. Children often are not able to describe their symptoms. A parent’s observations of the child’s behaviour and sleep may be helpful. Knowing that a parent or other close relative has restless legs syndrome can also help the doctor make a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome in the child.

What Are Common Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Legs

People with RLS feel the irresistible urge to move, which is accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in their lower limbs that are unlike normal sensations experienced by people without the disorder.  The sensations in their legs are often difficult to define but may be described as aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping.  These sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rarely the chest or head.  Although the sensations can occur on just one side of the body, they most often affect both sides.  They can also alternate between sides. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.

Because moving the legs relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent the sensations.  They may pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed.

A classic feature of RLS is that the symptoms are worse at night with a distinct symptom-free period in the early morning, allowing for more refreshing sleep at that time.  Some people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.  They may also note a worsening of symptoms if their sleep is further reduced by events or activity.

People with RLS can sometimes experience remissions—spontaneous improvement over a period of weeks or months before symptoms reappear—usually during the early stages of the disorder.  In general, however, symptoms become more severe over time.

Solving The Mystery Of Restless Legs Syndrome: Acid

It’s been called the most common disease nobody’s heard of – and also one of the big mysteries in medicine.

It’s restless legs syndrome , a neurological and sleep disorder that causes discomfort and sometimes pain in the legs, particularly at night. It triggers a constant urge to move the legs that makes falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. And it can lead to other serious health problems, including depression.

RLS affects about 5-15% of adults in the United States. It shows up more as people age, occurs almost twice as often in women than men, and tends to run in families. Some studies have found a higher incidence of RLS among people with iron deficiency.

Yet for all that researchers know about it, RLS can be difficult to diagnose, in part because its symptoms overlap with other common conditions, such as nighttime leg cramps. It’s also difficult to treat, as there are few effective medications or therapies for relieving the symptoms of the disorder, which has no known cure.

But a recent observational study found a link between the development of RLS and the use of certain prescription medications commonly used to reduce acid reflux. The study, published in the journal SLEEP, was funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute .

For now, he encourages anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of restless legs syndrome to see their doctor.

The First Step In Treating Restless Legs Syndrome

Natural Cure for the Restless Leg Syndrome

The first line of defense against restless legs syndrome is to avoid substances or foods that may aggrivate or worsen the problem. Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. This may help relieve your symptoms. In addition, review all medications you are taking with your doctor to determine if any of these drugs could be causing the problem.

Any underlying medical conditions, such as anemia, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, kidney disease, thyroid disease, varicose veins, or Parkinson’s disease, should be treated. Dietary supplements to correct vitamin or mineral deficiency may be recommended. For some people, these treatments are all that is needed to relieve RLS symptoms.

You may also benefit from physical therapy and self-care treatments, such as stretching, taking hot or cold baths, whirlpool baths, applying hot or cold packs to the affected area, limb massage, or vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes before bedtime. Exercise and relaxation techniques also may be helpful.

 

The 11 Best Treatments For Restless Legs Syndrome

William Morrison, M.D.

What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome , also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes uncomfortable sensations, most often in the legs. These sensations have been described as tingly, crawling, creeping feelings, and cause the overwhelming urge to move the affected limb.

RLS symptoms typically occur when the person is sitting, resting, or sleeping, and often happen at night. The movements caused by RLS are called periodic limb movements of sleep . Because of these movements, RLS can cause serious sleep problems.

Some people have primary RLS, which has no known cause. Others have secondary RLS, which is typically associated with nerve problems, pregnancy, iron deficiency, or chronic kidney failure.

For most people with RLS, symptoms are mild. But if your symptoms are moderate to severe, RLS can have a big impact on your life. It can prevent you from sleeping enough, and thus cause problems with daytime focus and thinking, your job, and your social activities.

As a result of these problems, RLS can lead to anxiety and depression. And the longer you have the condition, the worse it can get. It can even spread to other parts of your body, such as your arms .

Here we list the best treatments for RLS. Some of these you can try on your own. Others you can discuss with your doctor, who can help you create a treatment plan to help relieve your RLS symptoms.

How Do You Know If You Have Restless Leg Syndrome

The National Institutes of Health says that four criteria must be met for the diagnosis of RLS in a person :

  • A strong urge to move your legs. This urge often, but not always, occurs with unpleasant feelings in your legs. When the disorder is severe, you also may have the urge to move your arms.
  • Symptoms that start or get worse when you’re inactive. The urge to move increases when you’re sitting still or lying down and resting.
  • Relief from moving. Movement, especially walking, helps relieve the unpleasant feelings.
  • Symptoms that start or get worse in the evening or at night.

Is Restless Leg Syndrome Common During Pregnancy

Restless leg syndrome is relatively common during pregnancy, especially in the second half of pregnancy. While most medications used to treat restless leg syndrome have not been adequately studied in pregnant women, the non-medication treatments and techniques described above can be very helpful. Furthermore, avoiding caffeine, warm compresses, massage, and regular exercising according to the doctors’ suggestions can be helpful.

Is There A Known Cause For Restless Leg Syndrome

Extensive research into the cause of RLS is occurring worldwide. A single unifying cause has not been identified, but we are getting closer. Here is what we do know:

  • RLS often runs in families. This is called primary or familial RLS. Researchers are currently looking for the gene or genes that cause RLS.
  • RLS sometimes appears to be a result of another condition, which, when present, worsens the underlying RLS. This is called secondary RLS.
  • Up to 25% of women develop RLS during pregnancy but symptoms often disappear after giving birth.
  • Low iron levels with out without anemia frequently contribute to a worsening of RLS.
  • RLS is very common in patients requiring dialysis for end-stage renal disease.
  • Damage to the nerves of the hands or feet from any number of causes including diabetes contributes to RLS.

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.

How Do Medications Treat Restless Legs Syndrome

The nerve pathway in the brain that helps control voluntary movements may not work normally in people with restless legs syndrome. This pathway uses certain chemicals that keep your movements normal.

It’s believed that people with restless legs syndrome have changes in the normal function of these chemicals. These changes may cause the involuntary movement that’s typical of restless legs syndrome.

Certain drugs can help treat the symptoms of restless legs syndrome by acting like the chemicals in this pathway or by helping these chemicals function normally.

The drugs that are used first to treat restless legs syndrome most often include , pramipexole, and rotigotine. The drug gabapentin enacarbil is also used, but usually only when the other drugs don’t provide relief.

What Are The Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:

  • Leg discomfort: These uncomfortable limb sensations are often described by adults as creeping, itching, pulling, crawling, tugging, throbbing, burning, or gnawing. These sensations usually occur at bedtime but can occur at other times of limb inactivity.
  • Urge to move legs : To relieve limb discomfort, you have an uncontrollable urge to move your limbs especially when resting, such as when sitting or lying down.
  • Sleep disruption: Additional time is often needed to fall asleep because of the urge to move your limbs to relieve the discomfort. Sometimes staying asleep may also be difficult.
  • Bedtime behavior problems: Because of the discomfort, you may need to get out of bed to stretch your limbs to relieve the discomfort.
  • Daytime sleepiness: Problems with falling asleep and staying asleep may result in daytime sleepiness.
  • Behavior and work performance problems: Again, due to sleep disruption, problems may emerge in daytime behavior and work performance.

How Do I Know If I Have Restless Leg Syndrome

Triggers That May Worsen RLS

The diagnosis of restless leg syndrome is established on four criteria established by The National Institutes of Health.

  • A strong urge to move your legs. This urge often, but not always, occurs with unpleasant feelings in your legs. When the disorder is severe, you also may have the urge to move your arms.
  • A strong urge to move the legs along with other RLS symptoms that begin or worsen when inactive, or in the evening and at night.
  • Treatment of restless leg syndrome is first directed toward any underlying illness, if known. For example:

    • Blood testing to reveal underlying iron deficiency anemia may reveal the underlying cause.
    • If varicose veins are thought to be the cause, then surgery to repair the circulation may be considered.
    • Reduction or elimination of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol from a person’s diet can be very helpful.
    • Stopping smoking can significantly diminish or prevent symptoms.
    • Getting better sleep and exercise can help some persons affected by restless legs.
    • Pregnant women who do not sleep well at night and other people with sleep disorders may develop RLS.

    There is no cure for restless leg syndrome; however, the condition usually responds well to home remedies and medications. The outlook is excellent for people with restless leg syndrome as long as it does not weaken or damage the function of the legs.

  • Acupuncture
  • Natural treatments such as quinine water at bedtime
  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

    A noninvasive procedure that’s typically used to treat depression could be helpful in relieving RLS symptoms. So far, studies have been limited and more research is needed, but the results are promising (4, 41,

    Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic impulses to certain areas of the brain.

    It’s not entirely clear why rTMS could help relieve RLS symptoms. One theory is that the impulses increase the release of dopamine in the brain. Another suggests that rTMS could help calm the hyperarousal in parts of the brain that are associated with RLS .

    In one 2015 study, 14 people with RLS were given 14 sessions of rTMS over 18 days. The sessions significantly improved their RLS symptoms and improved their sleep. The results lasted for at least two months after the treatment ended .

    Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

    With transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation , a device sends small electrical currents to parts of your body to help relieve pain.

    There’s not a lot of research on the use of TENS to treat RLS, but it could work.

    The idea is that like the Relaxis vibrating pad, it uses counterstimulation. One study showed that regular use of TENS along with a vibration treatment completely relieved one man’s RLS symptoms (

    However, more research is needed to confirm acupuncture as a reliable treatment for RLS.

    Tips For Coping With Restless Legs Syndrome

    Learning to recognize and avoid your personal triggers can help you manage RLS over time.

    Effective techniques for minimizing RLS symptoms vary from person to person. Many people find relief from keeping active throughout the day and using acupuncture, massage, stretching, or relaxation techniques at night. During the day, you may be able to ward off RLS symptoms by keeping your mind busy even when you are sitting still with activities like reading or chatting to a friend.

    Though RLS is not life-threatening, the frustration of not being able to sleep well can take a toll on mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, or reaching out to family and friends may provide additional emotional resources for coping with RLS.

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    Restless Leg Syndrome Definition And Facts

    • Restless leg syndrome is a condition marked by a strong urge to mover the legs along with symptoms of unpleasant sensations in the legs while resting and sleeping, for example, tingling, burning, and aching, while resting. The condition also causes leg pain and cramps.
    • Symptoms of restless leg syndrome are aching and an urge to move the lower extremities
    • It is suggested the main cause of restless leg syndrome is a problem using iron or the lack of iron in the brain. Many conditions have been associated with restless leg syndrome because of the iron problem, for example, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, and iron deficiency.
    • Restless leg syndrome tends to run in families.
    • Restless leg syndrome frequency leads to insomnia.
    • Treatment and home remedies for restless leg syndrome include medications and home remedies to manage symptoms and leg pain, increase the amount and quality of sleep, and treat underlying medical conditions.
    • Home remedies for restless leg syndrome include
    • iron supplementation for those that are iron deficient.
  • Restless leg syndrome is generally not considered curable, but treatments can substantially lessen or eradicate symptoms.
  • Other conditions that my mimic restless leg syndrome include poor circulation to the lower extremities, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy.
  • Medical Devices For Restless Legs Syndrome

    New attention is being given to the possibility of using medical devices to improve RLS symptoms. Similar to the way that moving the legs gives temporary relief, these medical devices aim to reduce discomfort of RLS symptoms by providing external stimulation.

    So far, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two medical devices as RLS treatments: a compression foot wrap and a vibrating pad. Both are available by prescription and designed for people with moderate to severe RLS.

    The foot wrap works by applying targeted pressure to the affected area, usually the lower leg or foot. By contrast, the vibrating pad uses counter-stimulation to mask RLS symptoms and improve sleep quality. Both devices are considered fairly safe, though they may not be suitable for people with certain underlying health conditions.

    Some physicians also recommend using a pneumatic compression device to ease RLS symptoms. It’s thought that compression of the veins helps boost circulation and reduce the uncomfortable sensations caused by RLS.


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