What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition marked by unpleasant leg sensations. It is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that causes an urge to move the legs. Restless Leg Syndrome frequently leads to insomnia because it usually interferes with sleep. The leg pain of Restless Leg Syndrome typically eases with motion of the legs and becomes more noticeable at rest.

People with Restless Leg Syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs and sometimes in their arms or other parts of the body. They get an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations. The condition causes an uncomfortable itchy, pins and needles or creepy crawly feeling in their legs. RLS affects both sexes, but it is more common in women and may begin at any age, even in young children. Most people who are affected severely are middle-aged or older.

What Are the Causes?
The causes of Restless Leg Syndrome is yet unknown in most people, however, doctors suspect that genes play a role. Nearly half the people with RLS also have a family member with the condition. However, other factors associated with the development or worsening of Restless Leg Syndrome include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Iron Deficiency, kidney failure, diabetes
  • Nerve disease

Some drugs and medications have been associated with RLS, they include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • H2-histamine blockers (Ranitidine and Cimetidine)
  • Certain antidepressants (Amitriptyline)

What Are the Symptoms?
People suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome are described by many different symptoms, such as:

  • Cramps
  • Leg pain
  • Tingling
  • Itchy
  • Burning and
  • Aching

Symptoms of RLS usually affect and worsen in the nighttime leading to insomnia. Because of lack of sleep, children and some adults may be very drowsy, irritable and aggressive during daytime hours.

How Can RLS Be Diagnosed?
For the diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome, four criteria should be met in a person:

  • A Strong Urge to Move Legs: This urge often, but not always, occurs with unpleasant feelings in your legs. When the disorder is severe, you may even have the urge to move your arms.
  • Relief From Moving: Movement, especially walking, helps relieve the unpleasant feelings.
  • Symptoms Get Worse When Inactive: Due to increasing pain, the urge to move your legs grows stronger when you’re sitting still or lying down and resting.
  • Symptoms Get Worse At Night: As the day passes, pain starts in the evening and gets worse at night.

How Can You Cure RLS?
Physiotherapy is the best treatment method, however, it requires severe lifestyle modifications that include:

  • No smoking
  • Performing regular, daily exercises. Your physiotherapist will recommend and prescribe various strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
  • Establishing a regular rigid sleeping pattern: Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday
  • Avoiding medicines that trigger the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Massaging your legs
  • Taking a hot bath in the evening
  • Applying hot or cold compression to your legs
  • Walking and stretching

There is no specific cure for Restless Leg Syndrome, however, Physiotherapy can help control the condition, reduce symptoms and improve sleep. If you are suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome and have tried all possible treatments, book an appointment with us, our professional physiotherapists with their expertise will help you get relief from Restless Leg Syndrome.