Updated: July 20, 2021

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) (What it is, its causes and symptoms, and how it can be addressed to improve sleep)

Written by Sumit Pandey

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition that causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them. 

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This can lead to significant sleep disruption and impaired quality of life. For example, it has been associated with a 20-point decline in generalized health status.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is common, with a lifetime prevalence of 5-10% in the general population. It is more common among women than men and is twice as likely to occur in individuals over the age of 50, for which reason it is sometimes referred to as "senior disease".

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There is a strong genetic component to Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Individuals with a first degree relative with the disorder have a 1 in 4 chance of developing it.

What causes Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is caused by a problem within the nervous system that is thought to be related to the brain's role in maintaining muscle tone.

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The exact cause of this problem is unknown, although it often runs in families, suggesting a genetic component. It has also been associated with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease and primary insomnia.

What are the best-known treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?

Since Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition, medications are not effective for all cases. 

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However, there are several medications that have been shown to be effective for relieving the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). For example, opioids are known to be effective for relieving the sensations and urge to move the legs associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). 

Opioids are also effective for treating the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and primary insomnia. Non-opioid medications that have been shown to be effective include iron supplements, vitamin B12 supplements, and dopamine agonists. 

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Iron supplements have also been shown to be effective for treating primary insomnia. In addition to medications, there are several non-pharmacological treatments that can be helpful for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). 

Recent research suggests that acupuncture may be helpful for both Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and primary insomnia. In addition, there is evidence that regular exercise and certain lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, may be helpful for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

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Conclusion

In recent years there has been an increase in research for new therapies for the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). 

The treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is complicated and patients should not assume that they will respond to a single therapy. 

Patients should work with their physician to find the right combination of therapies for their unique symptoms and situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • RLS is a disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. The sensations are usually most intense in the evening or at night when the person is trying to go to sleep or is completely relaxed.

  • Its incidence is highest during sleep.

  • Scientists do not know exactly what causes RLS, but they have identified several possible causes. These include iron deficiency, genetic predisposition, aging, pregnancy, and lower limb neurological disease.

  • The symptoms of RLS are unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs. They usually start in the legs and may travel to the arms and torso. The sensations are usually most intense in the evening or at night when the person is trying to go to sleep or is completely relaxed. The sensations often cause restlessness and an irresistible urge to move the legs. Sometimes the urge to move the legs is so strong that it actually causes difficulty falling asleep.

  • The prevalence of RLS in community-dwelling adults in the United States is estimated to be from 1% to 6.5%.

  • Because people with RLS have an irresistible urge to move their legs, they may keep their spouse or bed partner awake by constantly moving about. In addition, sleep itself may be restless and fragmented.

Written by Sumit Pandey

My name is Sumit Kumar Pandey and I’m a content writer and blogger who specializes in writing about technology, web design, and online marketing. After working as a research scholar in the engineering field for many years, I’m now a full-time content writer, helping people get more exposure and generate more leads for their businesses.

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