Restless Leg Syndrome is a highly discomforting condition that is estimated to affect at least 10% of the population in the U.S. Read on to know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome that is also known as Akathisia.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Medical researchers define Akathisia as a condition that gives rise to unpleasant sensations in the legs and an urge to move lower limbs to get rid of these feelings.
It is pronounced in English as “A-ka-thiz-i-a”.
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
This condition is encountered in many patients. Medical researchers are still in doubt regarding the exact cause of this disorder. Stress has been found to worsen this condition.
The syndrome is generally found to occur in individuals suffering from diseases like
- Iron deficiency
- Chronic kidney disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy (condition marked by excessive damage to the nerves in the arms and legs)
These disorders are regarded as causes of Akathisia. The condition is also found to originate in some people who use certain medicines like anticonvulsant drugs and antidepressants. Pregnant women are also common sufferers of this disorder.
This disorder has been found to run in generations of the same family. It is due to this reason that it is regarded to be dependent on genetic factors. The unusual genetic strain has not yet been identified. The condition is also supposed to result from lack of proper sleep. Reduced sleep at night time can result in daytime sleepiness as well as depression, anxiety, retarded thinking and confusion.
Kidney Failure, Diabetes, Magnesium Deficiency, Vitamin B 12 Deficiency and consumption of high amounts of caffeine and alcohol are also regarded as secondary causes of Restless Leg Syndrome.
Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms
This condition is mainly characterized by uncomfortable tingling or crawling sensations in the lower part of the legs that arise when the body is static. The condition goes away once the leg is moved. The sensation may last for an hour or more. It generally arises when a person lies down at night or even during daytime when the person sits for a prolonged duration without any lower body movement.
The irritating leg sensations can be too discomforting to let the sufferer sit in one spot at a stretch. An affected individual is forced to get up from time to time to relax the Akathisia symptoms. Walking provides considerable relief from the discomforting sensations.
Some people also suffer from pain, itchiness and pricking sensations in the legs along with tingling feelings. Walking can relieve pain and other discomforts to an extent.
Restless Leg Syndrome Diagnosis
This disorder does not have any specific diagnosis. Generally, healthcare providers do not find any abnormalities in sufferers, unless peripheral nerve disease is also present. Blood tests such as Ferritin and CBC may be conducted to eliminate chances of Anemia or Iron Deficiency being present. These conditions arise along with Restless Leg Syndrome in rare cases. Diseases with similar symptoms may be ruled out with the aid of other diagnostic tests and examinations.
Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment
There is no definite treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome. The aim of curing this disease is to relieve stress and muscular tension. This can be achieved with the aid of low doses of Ropinirole (Requip) or Pramipexole which are highly effective in reducing symptoms in some individuals.
In case of sleep disruption in sufferers, healthcare providers may prescribe Restless Leg Syndrome medicines like Pregabalin, Gabapentin and an anti-Parkinson’s Disease drug like Sinemet. Tranquilizers like Clonazepam may also be used as Restless Leg Syndrome medications. However, such drugs may produce sleepiness in sufferers during daytime. Iron supplements are administered to patients suffering from iron deficiency. Narcotics may also be administered in low doses to provide relief from discomforts.
Restless Leg Syndrome Home Remedies
This discomforting condition can also be cured at home. Common home remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome include gentle stretching exercises, massages and warm baths. These help in relaxing the leg muscles and alleviate stress in suffering individuals. As aforesaid, stress is regarded as a major cause of this disorder.
Restless Leg Syndrome Natural Treatment
Natural remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome consist of the following methods.
Go for long distance walks. This will keep your leg muscles active and also improve circulation in the lower limb. Lack of proper blood circulation in the lower extremities is supposed to be a cause of this disorder.
Moving the leg up and down from time to time can relax the muscles and prevent restless complications in the leg. It can also help you avoid recurring complications in the leg.
Avoid trigger foods
Avoid consumption of chocolate, caffeine, soda water and soft drinks as much as possible. Avoiding smoking can also provide you with benefit from the effects of this condition.
Wear hot socks
Wearing hot socks at night before going to sleep can relax your muscles and provide you with relief from discomforting symptoms. The warm temperature will result in dilation of the blood vessels and increasing the flow of blood to your lower extremities.
Restless Leg Syndrome and Pregnancy
This condition is supposed to arise in pregnancy due to lack of certain essential vitamins like Iron. Some doctors believe that the discomforting leg sensations arise as a result of Folate deficiency. Adding more Folate and iron into the diet of pregnant women may help cure this condition in some cases. Consuming sugar before going to bed aggravates this disorder in some pregnant women. Tingling sensations in the leg are accompanied by anemia. Anemia occurs due to drastic rise in blood volume during pregnancy. Approximately one in five pregnant women is found to develop this condition. Fortunately, the syndrome goes away shortly after giving birth.
Restless Leg Syndrome in Children
This condition is quite frequent in children but is researched very less. This disorder typically arises in children who are deprived of enough sleep or lack enough iron in bloodstream. This disorder is characterized in kids by itchiness, pain, prickling sensations and involuntary movement of legs.
However, recent medical studies strongly suggest genetic factors at work beneath appearance of this condition in children. A recent study conducted on 500 children has found at least 3/4th of the suffering from this disorder.
Restless Leg Syndrome Prognosis
With effective treatment, this condition can be cured over time. This disorder is non-dangerous and poses no risks to life of sufferers. It is not suggestive of any acute condition. However, it can disrupt sleep and lead to unpleasant physical sensations.
Restless Leg Syndrome Complications
The disorder gives rise to complications like anemia and insomnia in sufferers.
If you are suffering from unpleasant sensations in leg similar to this disorder, get in touch with a professional medical care giver. With effective medical cure and associated lifestyle changes, you can get rid of this discomforting condition sooner than you can imagine.