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Restless Leg Syndrome (Part 1) Symptoms and Triggers

Written by Courteney

Posted on June 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm

About a tenth of the American adult population (and 2% of children) are afflicted with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). According to the National Sleep Foundation, RLS, also known as Willis-Ekborn disease is “a sleep-related movement disorder is known best for its overwhelming and often unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest.” It is often referred to as a neurological disorder as well.

Symptoms of RLS

RLS is a complex, case-dependent condition and symptoms range widely from person to person, some of which may be difficult to articulate. Commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Tingling of the legs (and sometimes other areas of the body)
  • An overpowering urge to move the legs in an attempt to relieve discomfort
  • Involuntary twitches and movements of the legs
  • A feeling of pulling or tugging at the legs during the night
  • Itching or irritation of the legs
  • Aching of the legs or frequent muscle spasms or cramps
  • ‘Crawling’ sensation or the feeling of something foreign coursing the veins of the legs
  • Jerking of the legs keeps you or your partner awake often during the night
  • Symptoms most often happen while you are resting or during the night
  • Tiredness during the day due to impaired sleep
  • Symptoms are often greatly relieved by repetitive movements or stretching

What Worsens RLS?

1. Stress is one of the biggest RLS triggers, if you can learn to manage your stress and anxiety it can greatly decrease symptoms.

2. While moderate exercise is beneficial to RLS, vigorous exercise may actually have an adverse impact on the condition because of the extreme stimulation and exhaustion of the muscles.

3. Certain medications such as heart or blood pressure medications, allergy medications or anti-depressants can trigger symptoms.

4. Herbal or dietary supplements can also adversely affect RLS, so it is important to cross check all your medications and supplements with your doctor or pharmacist.

5. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine have also been associated with exacerbating RLS (caffeine and nicotine because of their stimulant effect on the body).

6. Extreme temperatures have also been linked to worsened RLS symptoms.

7. Lastly, diet has an impact on the condition. Certain sugar-loaded and highly processed foods have been associated with flare-ups.

How is RLS Diagnosed?

There is no one test that can confirm RLS, it is largely based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also run a series of tests to rule out potential underlying conditions that can cause similar neurological symptoms such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • A B12 or other vitamin deficiency
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia

Thus concludes our look at the causes, prevalence and symptoms of RLS – stay tuned for medical, homeopathic and lifestyle treatment options for RLS in our next post! Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you suspect you may have RLS or have any questions about management, sign up today for a video conference with one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians!


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