Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that is characterized by uncomfortable sensations that typically occur in the legs, accompanied by an overwhelming desire to move them.
As such till now the cause of RLS is unknown, but some factors are known to be associated with it:
- Family History
- Iron deficiency
- Neurologic lesions
- Chronic diseases
- Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use
Who is at risk for RLS? There are certain people who are more at risk for this affliction than others. Understanding who is at risk may help with earlier diagnosis and treatment in the early stages of the disease.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) may affect as many as 12 million people in the United States today.
- Gender is a factor in RLS, even though it affects both men and women, incidences are higher in women than in men.
- Many people with RLS are diagnosed in middle age.
- People with a family history of RLS are much more likely to get it at a younger age.
- Race/Ethnic groups are all afflicted by RLS but it has been reported to be more common in Northern European descent.
- RLS is common in pregnant women, but usually disappears a few weeks after delivery.
Being able to understand some of the causes of Restless Leg Syndrome can take some of the worry and guess work out of knowing whether you really have RLS or something similar. If you would like to know more about other conditions that can mimic Restless Leg Syndrome join our newsletter and receive the latest tips on RLS and enjoy our special offers.
What are the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?
You get burning, creeping, tugging sensations or feel as if insects are crawling inside the legs. This kind of abnormal sensation is known as Paresthesia or Dysesthesias which means unpleasant abnormal sensations. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that symptoms occur or worsen when you are lying down, sitting, resting or relaxing for long periods of time. You may often feel an uncontrollable urge to get up and move around. Some people also have problems concentrating and have impaired memory. It can have profoundly negative effects on quality of life, often due to the sleep deprivation that results from insomnia that many sufferers find inevitably accompanying their restless legs.
Almost 10 percent of Americans have symptoms of RLS, and yet many sufferers have never heard of the condition and they often don't discuss their sym toms with a doctor. As one sufferer of RLS said "It's such a hard sensation to explain to someone and that makes it so awkward to go to doctor and try and describe it."
Restless Legs Syndrome can be further divided into two categories: primary RLS, and secondary RLS. Primary RLS is idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown. Those who suffer from it usually notice an onset of symptoms before the age of 40. The symptoms appear slowly at first. They can wax and wane and even disappear for a while. But they always return. Primary RLS is progressive, which means it generally gets worse with age. Secondary RLS, by contrast, usually has a sudden onset of symptoms, often first occurring after the age of 40. The occurrence of symptoms can be daily. While primary RLS is idiopathic, secondary RLS is symptomatic, which is to say that the underlying problem of restless legs is thought to be secondary to, or caused by, a primary disorder such as anemia, or physical condition like pregnancy. Treating the restless legs, in the case of secondary RLS, often means treating the underlying condition. Some studies show that there is a genetic component as well, indicating that the disorder may be hereditary.
Restless legs syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. There is currently no laboratory test available to pinpoint it. RLS can be clinically diagnosed only by checking your health and family history and your symptoms. Symptoms of RLS may be improved by sleep hygiene training and awareness.
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Natural Cures for Restless Legs Syndrome
When you see the doctor for Restless Legs Syndrome, you’re often given pills without mention of the many natural cures that have been found to be helpful in controlling the symptoms of RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME. One of the major differences between holistic, natural alternative medicine and conventional allopathic medicine is that natural medicine supports the body in its own healing processes, but conventional medicine often interferes with the natural healing processes while attempting to subdue a symptom. This does not mean that the two approaches cannot work together; they can if you in conjunction with your doctor are aware of all of your choices.
Here are several choices you can make with natural cures for your Restless Leg Syndrome.
Iron deficiency: Low iron stores in the brain will contribute to RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME symptoms so making sure your diet is high in iron can prevent symptoms due to low iron from occurring.
Caffeine, Tobacco and Alcohol: A diet low in caffeine is necessary during times when the RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME potential is worse. This means avoiding coffee, tea, certain sodas and chocolate. Caffeine can increase jitteriness and worsen the symptoms of restless legs that you have. Tobacco in cigars, cigarettes or even Nicotine gum can worsen the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. Another recommendation sometimes heard is to stay away from alcohol and even sugar substitutes
Vitamins: Some studies advocate the use of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium, Zinc and folic acid or folate. Most people think of vitamins and minerals, they think of going to the store and buying a multivitamin. What they don’t know is that those vitamins are almost always synthetic and don’t work the same as real food or whole food vitamins. Whole food vitamins contain minerals and vitamins that are really extracts of food. This makes them much more capable of getting into the body and working like vitamins are supposed to work.
Foods: Some early studies showing that having reactive hypoglycemia contributes to a higher than average risk of developing RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME. Eating several small meals and avoiding high sugar food may reduce symptoms of low blood sugar. High protein foods like peanut butter are better than high sugar foods, foods containing flower and stick with whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Chiropractic Care: Many chiropractors believe that a part of Restless Legs Syndrome includes having pelvic instability. The chiropractor will recommend strengthening exercises for the pelvic area and a program that consists of consistent walking. Leg stretching also helps if done twice per day.