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Restless Legs Syndrome: What Is It?

WHAT IS RLS?

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Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological sleep disorder that is characterized with unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful sensations in the legs with an irresistible urge to move them.

These sensations are most often described as itchy, burning, throbbing, and crawling along the legs.

WHY IS RLS SO DISRUPTIVE?

RLS sensations typically occur in the evening when you lie down for bed, or while sitting. Getting up and moving around helps alleviate the sensations and pain, but this has a detrimental impact on sleep duration and quality.

The accumulation of sleep loss due to RLS can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, mood disorders, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating or making sound decisions. All of which can have major impact on your personal, professional, and social life. 

Since RLS symptoms can vary from day to day, patients with RLS must maintain a proactive treatment plan with their doctor(s) to stay on top of the disorder.

HOW DO YOU TREAT RLS?

RLS does not have a cure, but RLS symptoms can be treated and managed. Treatment options heavily rely on self-care and lifestyle changes, with medications available to help with the pain. 

Lifestyle changes include avoiding or decreasing alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine consumption and practicing moderate exercise each day.

Self-care options include massaging the legs, taking warm baths, and using heating pads or ice packs.

SOME FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 1 in 10 adults suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome
  • RLS symptoms increase with age and are more prevalent in women
  • RLS symptoms and severity can vary daily, making it difficult to manage
  • It is estimated that RLS affects more people than type 2 diabetes