Restless Legs Syndrome

Approximately 30 percent of people with FM also have restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest. People describe these unpleasant sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs. The sensations may range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.

Symptoms of the condition include:

  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness in the legs and sometimes arms
  • Leg cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Skin sensitive to the touch

The most distinctive feature of RLS is that lying down and trying to relax actually activates the symptoms, which can significantly interfere with sleep. Because moving the legs relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion. They toss and turn in bed and often find they have to get up and walk to relieve the sensations.

More than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience a more common condition known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), which is characterized by involuntary twitching or jerking of the legs during sleep. These movements typically occur every 10 to 60 seconds and may continue throughout the night, causing repeated awakening and severely disrupting sleep.

The cause of both RLS and PLMD remains a mystery. Both, however, result in poor sleep quality, leaving patients with exhaustion, poor concentration, and an inability to accomplish normal daily tasks.

How is Restless Leg Syndrome Diagnosed?

There are no definitive tests to diagnose Restless Leg Syndrome (Ekbom’s) but it is not uncommon for your doctor to carry out a full physical examination and ask for some blood tests to be carried out.

Blood tests are carried out to try and find secondary causes of the condition such as an iron deficiency, diabetes or kidney failure.

Your doctor will also look for signs of the condition in other members of your family as the condition can be hereditary. He or she may also look for signs of arthritis in your joints.

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is another one of those conditions – just like FM and M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) – that does not have a cure. The condition can be eased or alleviated by any of the following:

  • Kneeling
  • Placing feet in cold water
  • Walking
  • Gentle exercise
  • Lying with the feet out of the bed
  • Swimming

As you will have no doubt noticed from the  list, exercise is the key to reducing the effects of the condition and this is something that is a prominent factor in the lives of those individuals suffering from FM.

Your doctor may also be able to prescribe medication that can reduce the symptoms of the condition but as we have said there is no definite cure for it.

Vitamins

It has been suggested that ensuring you are regularly in receipt of the necessary vitamins may reduce the symptoms of the condition. The vitamins you should look to take if you suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) are:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin E

It is worth noting at this juncture that Folic Acid is a supplement recommended for pregnant women.

Alternative Remedies

As with most conditions you will find that there are a variety of alternative remedies that purport to helping ease the condition. These include:

Niagra Therapies are therapies that use vibrating massaging equipment to massage the areas affected by the condition such as the upper and lower parts of the leg.

Further Information

Again, as with any medical condition, we recommend you consult with your doctor before embarking on any alternative therapies. It is worth while making a note of the symptoms, when they occur and how long they last and providing your GP with this information at the time of your appointment. Don’t worry about bombarding them with information, the more information they have the easier it will be for them to diagnose the problem. See Improving Patient-Doctor Communication.

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