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Common Sleep Disorders: RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome)

restless leg syndrome

Tossing and turning all night is a fear to some and a vague dream to others, but to some the matter is more complicated. Restless Leg Syndrome is a poorly understood condition that causes discomfort in the legs while laying or sitting, and it affects about 5 – 15% of Americans.

RLS can affect both men and women, and while children are susceptible to the condition, it tends to occur more often in the elderly.  It can be brought on by things such as pregnancy and anemia, but often the root of the problem remains unknown.

One type of RLS can begin early in life and persist throughout, gradually becoming more uncomfortable. Another type of RLS can show up suddenly later in life, and does not seem to worsen.

A patient with RLS will often have a hard time describing the discomfort, or it ranges from person to person. It may be a mild aching, a tingling or burning, or it may be a “creepy crawly” feeling.

While the legs ache at rest, momentary relief can be attained from moving the limbs.  Alternatively, the legs may also move involuntarily during sleep.

Certain medicines, as well as nerve damage, pregnancy, and iron deficiencies can all cause RLS.  Changes to these can all affect the severity of RLS, for example after pregnancy it often goes away.

Lifestyle changes to promote better sleep in general are recommended for those suffering from RLS for unknown reasons. Massaging and icing the tender areas combined with over the counter pain medication may provide temporary relief.

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