Restless Legs Syndrome
Have you ever had a strong urge to move your legs when trying to go to sleep at night? Has it kept you awake or do you feel the need to walk around in an attempt to stop the tingling? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you may be suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).
Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological condition that is characterized by the irresistible urge to move the legs. Research has shown that this disorder can be hereditary. It is also common in pregnant women, but symptoms usually disappear after birth. Listed below are some common symptoms:
·         A strong urge to move your legs. This urge may also be accompanied by other uncomfortable sensations described by many as itching, pulling, tugging, or gnawling.
·         Symptoms become worse the longer you are resting
·         Symptoms improve when you move your legs.
·         Symptoms are worse in the evenings, especially when you are lying down.
RLS can also cause difficulty in falling or staying asleep, making it one of the most common sleep disorders. A substantial number of people who have RLS also have periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS), which occur every 20 to 30 seconds on and off throughout the night. This can cause partial awakenings that disrupt sleep, which in turn can disrupt your work, relationships, and overall health.
What are the treatment options for RLS?
There are several medications approved by the FDA that have been found to be helpful with the symptoms of RLS. The most common are ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex). These medications fall into four major classes: dopaminergic agents, sleeping aids, anticonvulsants, and pain relievers. You should speak with your physician before adjusting your medications. Aside from medications, here are some other options you and your doctor can consider to help deal with your RLS:
·         Checking to see if there is an underlying vitamin or iron deficiency
·         Looking at medications you may be taking which make RLS worse, such as blood pressure, heart, nausea, depression, and allergy drugs
·         Looking at your diet to assure it is healthy and balanced
·         Looking at various activities that may help you personally deal with RLS, including walking, stretching, taking a hot or cold bath, massaging, acupressure, or relaxation techniques
·         Attempting to keep your mind engaged
·         Implementing a program of good sleep habits
·         Possibly eliminating caffeine from your diet
If you suspect you may suffer from RLS and need to speak with a physician or schedule an evaluation, please contact the UAB Medical West Sleep Disorders Center at 205.481.7370. The UAB Medical West Sleep Disorders Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is ideal for diagnosing and treating your sleep problems. You will receive excellent, professional care in comfortable, relaxing sleep suites.