Restless Legs Syndrome – Do you have it?

November 12, 2012

Restless Legs Syndrome – Do you have it?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition which may affect up to 10% of the adult population of the United States. Most people have the condition in its milder form but those with the more serious form of the condition can have their lives severely affected. Each sufferer may describe the condition differently but will always complain about weird sensations in the legs and the difficulty to remain at rest and comfortable.

If you have kept you partner awake by involuntary jerking of the legs or you feel that you must move your legs when you are lying down then you may have restless legs syndrome. Other indicators of the condition could be that you are tired all of the time and have difficulty when trying to concentrate (this could be caused by being unable to get enough good quality sleep). If you have an overwhelming desire to keep moving your legs at times when you are sitting at rest or trying to relax is another good indicator that you may have restless legs syndrome.

When describing the feelings in your legs would you use words like, itchy, or as if someone is pulling at you, or something is crawling around inside? If the answer is yes, then you may be suffering from the condition. If your symptoms become more pronounced at night or you have a family history of restless legs syndrome then probably you are suffering from it too.

Finally, if you have been to the doctor and no physical reason for the symptoms has been found, then perhaps it is now time to consider yourself as a RLS sufferer.

Although the points discussed above give a good indication, in 2003 the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), identified 4 main areas to investigate with the aim of making a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome.

  1. If your symptoms can be relieved or improved just by moving your legs or stretching then this indicates the person is suffering from RLS. Many patients find that walking, rocking on their feet or just shaking their legs loosely alleviates the symptoms.
  2. Whenever you are at rest, just relaxing or lying down and your symptoms worsen is another good indicator of the condition. However when the person starts to move again then the symptoms are relieved or partially relieved. As soon as they stop moving then the pain or discomfort returns.
  3. Night time is the worse time for restless legs syndrome sufferers. This is when RLS sufferers feel the most intense discomfort and the feelings are at their most unpleasant. It is often the case that it is in the mornings that RLS patients feel at their best.
  4. A restless legs sufferer will normally want to move their legs but there will be peculiar sensations in the legs which may be uncomfortable. They are rarely painful but the feelings are often described as very irritating, burning, tugging, aching or creeping. Although called RLS the sensations can start in the lower legs but can spread to other areas of the body such as arms and the chest.

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