NetWellness is a global, community service providing quality, unbiased health information from our partner university faculty. NetWellness is commercial-free and does not accept advertising.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Uninterrupted sleep is taken for granted by millions of Americans, but for those with restless legs syndrome, getting a good night's sleep can be a challenge. Restless legs syndrome wreaks havoc on nighttime sleep patterns and a quality lifestyle.
Individuals with restless legs syndrome experience uncomfortable sensations in the lower extremities accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to move their legs during rest. This occurs most commonly at night and can interfere with the ability to fall asleep. While it is estimated that 20 million people have restless legs syndrome, the number may be much higher.
Some people do not recognize the specific symptoms as abnormal, and have difficulty figuring out why they are constantly tired during the day. Others are very aware of their condition, but do not seek medical care. Due to these reasons, and a general lack of awareness, restless legs syndrome is under-diagnosed. People who have restless legs syndrome are understandably exhausted and struggle to make it through each day.
Many people with restless legs syndrome complain of leg discomfort often described as a creeping or crawling sensation, though a long list of terms and phrases have been used to describe the sensations. An irresistible urge to move or kick their legs is typical and the symptoms are often relieved by movement but tend to reappear again with rest. The cause of the disorder is not known in the majority of cases, but several medications and conditions have been associated with restless legs syndrome. Some of these include medications for mood, nausea, and allergies; and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, renal failure, pregnancy, and low iron levels. Excessive caffeine use and nicotine are known to aggravate restless legs syndrome.
Individuals with excessive fatigue or evening leg discomfort while at rest in the evening should see their Family Physician to try to determine an exact cause. If restless legs syndrome is suspected, potential remedies as simple as lifestyle and diet changes, or adjusting medications, may help. In addition, there are medications that are very effective at relieving the symptoms for more significant cases.
If you feel you suffer from restless legs syndrome, discuss your symptoms with your physician. Referral to a Sleep Specialist or a Neurologist may help in evaluating and treating this condition.
Find out more: Seeking Rest for People with Restless Leg Syndrome
This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center Media Relations Office and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.
Last Reviewed: Aug 10, 2010
Karen M Thomas, DO
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University
Dennis Auckley, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University