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RLS - Restless Leg Syndrome

Updated on January 24, 2015
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

It is time for you to pull your hair out. You go to bed at night and you are just settling in for a welcoming reprise from the stressful day. As your body relaxes, you can feel the tension melt away and the Sandman approach. Then you are jerked awake from the intense tightening, jerking, and creepy crawling feeling all through your legs. You cannot help but move them again and again. You cannot stop. The only relief found is when you stand up and maybe walk. Sitting, lying down, or any reclining position brings out the never ending urge to move the legs. You do not suddenly have a need to run a marathon. You probably have Restless Leg Syndrome.

What Is It and What Do I Do?

At least 10% of people have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and many of them do not even realize it.  RLS is a neurological disorder that has baffled researchers.  It is nothing new, but it is just now being recognized as a disorder that can be defined and addressed.

For years we have heard our grandparents complain about their leg cramps and losing sleep over muscle aches in their lower extremities.  Unbeknownst to them, it was not the fact that they worked too hard that day or were just getting on up in years.  It was the nerves in their legs crying out.

It was in the mid 1940’s that Karl Axel Ekbom from Sweden gave this condition a name.  Serious investigations began into this disorder yet the causes alluded the medical profession.  To many this made it a “fake” condition that really did not exist.

It does exist to the many who feel their legs tighten and hurt as the evening progresses.  Constant sitting can bring it on.  Lying down to go to bed calls forth the discomfort and the good night’s sleep is lost for another day.

What causes these sensations that drive us insane?  No one knows for sure, but many conditions have been linked to it.  Those with RLS have been known to also have diabetes, thyroid issues, sleep apnea, iron deficiency, peripheral neuropathy and many other conditions as if these were not enough.  Though having these does not mean that RLS is right around the corner.  Many people who have any of these conditions do not experience RLS, but the common appearance of them is not to be ignored.  There has even been some evidence of it running in families.

What can be done?  Currently there are several medications that can help relieve the symptoms of RLS.  Drugs that were originally used for such conditions as Parkinson’s (ex. Ropinirole), seizures (ex. Neurontin), narcotics, and sleep aids have all been used with some success.  There are also the more “natural” way to treat it with massage therapy and acupuncture.


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    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 7 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Thanks, RGraf. I think eating a lot more fish and calcium would take care of that problem...maybe. My Mother had Parkinsons and her hand wavered, but not bad. Today, I'd take vitamins before delving into Chemicals the doctors prescribe. Don

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      My ex had this condition. I always thought it was because he was on his feet so much during the day, but now I think I'm wrong about that. It made sleeping with him rather, um, wakeful.

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      A nicely written and informative hub. Quite enlightening for me. Thank you.

      Forever His,