Sleep Disorders Disrupted Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common condition that can affect the lower limbs at any time of day. Uncomfortable sensations in the legs force individuals to stand and move about for relief. Symptoms can occur at any time, but RLS is often worse in the evening and nighttime. Restless leg syndrome can make it difficult to sleep well, so sufferers often report fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms

Many people find it difficult to describe restless leg syndrome symptoms. Irritating sensations include tingling, aching and burning deep inside the legs. The urge to move the legs becomes irresistible, making it difficult to stay still.

Restless leg syndrome symptoms can affect anyone — even children — although older women seem to be most commonly affected. A high percentage of people diagnosed with RLS also suffer from periodic limb movement disorder — up to 80 percent, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2010). People who develop RLS late in life may experience a rapid progression from mild to severe restless leg syndrome symptoms.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

Researchers have yet to identify what causes restless leg syndrome symptoms. However, certain factors increase the risk of restless leg syndrome, including:

AnemiaChronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and Parkinson’s disease Family history of restless leg syndromeMedication side effectsNerve damagePregnancy (RLS associated with pregnancy usually disappears after childbirth)Stimulants, including alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.

Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment

Physicians look for underlying causes of restless leg syndrome first. Sleep studies may provide insight into brain wave and muscle activity. Restless leg syndrome symptoms are varied, and lengthy tests may be required to determine the root cause of restless leg syndrome.

Restless leg syndrome treatment often begins with some lifestyle changes, including taking additional vitamins and eliminating stimulants. These are especially useful if RLS is linked to another condition. Good sleep habits and massages, combined with cold or heat treatments, may also provide relief.

Requip® for Restless Leg Syndrome

Moderate to severe cases of RLS may benefit from medication such as Requip®, a Parkinson’s disease medication. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Requip® as a treatment for moderate to severe restless leg syndrome treatment. Requip® for restless leg syndrome stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical necessary for nerve and brain cell communication.

Taking Requip® for restless leg syndrome treatment may cause side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and sweating. If you’re taking Requip® and experience any of these side effects, report them to your doctor immediately.

Your doctor may also prescribe any of the following medications to treat RLS:

  • Codeine
  • Neurontin®
  • Klonopin®
  • Restorilâ„¢
  • Roxicodone®
  • Xanax®.

Resources

International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group. (n.d.). RLS information. Retrieved August 23, 2010, from http://www.friglobalevents.com/irlssg/rlsinfo.htm.

Latoore, J. (2005). Restless legs syndrome. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/restless_legs_syndrome/article_em.htm.

Medical News Today. (2005). Restless leg syndrome drug, Requip, approved by FDA. Retrieved August 23, 2010, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/23995.php.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2010). Restless legs syndrome fact sheet. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm.