Restless leg syndrome

Remember when you were a kid and your legs used to pain you at night? Many nights each weak spent writhing around in bed, thrashing with restlessness as your legs hurt for no reason. No wounds could be seen, no trauma had been experienced, simply legs that ached relentlessly. If you complained to either of your parents, chances are you got the same answer, “Growing pains.”

But what happens if you start feeling that familiar pain and experiencing that same old restlessness at a time when you are well beyond the stage of growing pains? What if you have trouble sleeping and start thrashing about because of “growing pains” when you are 35 with two growing kids of your own? Don’t start letting the hem down on your pants yet, chances are you are not going to get any taller in the next few weeks, you are simply dealing with restless legs syndrome.

The Nature of Restless Leg Syndrome
When you have restless leg syndrome you experience pain with unknown etymology (or cause) in your legs while they are at rest. You don’t generally feel this pain or discomfort while you are walking or moving about, but while settling down in front of the television or while attempting to fall asleep you may feel a squeezing sensation, aches, burning, jittery, or other uncomfortable (and sometimes downright painful) feeling in your legs that just makes you want to get up and move around.

Moving around will often ease the pain, but once it start it can be difficult to get rid of. You may also notice that you are woken up out of a dead sleep from the sudden onset of pain. It is important to remember that while restless legs syndrome is painful and, frankly, annoying, it is not actually dangerous or the sign of a serious complication. With that being said, it does not mean that you should not consult your primary care physician when you find you are experiencing the symptoms of the syndrome. You must visit a doctor and receive a diagnosis to ensure that it is, in fact, restless legs syndrome and not another more dangerous disorder such as blood clots.

The causes of restless legs syndrome are difficult to narrow down. For some it may be a hereditary problem, others might experience it as a result of iron deficiency or renal failure. Still others may just be in the throes of severe stress and/ or pregnancy. Lastly, some diabetics may experience restless legs syndrome due to nerve damage called neuropathy.

Treatment Options for Restless Legs Syndrome
In the case of restless legs syndrome as a result of stress or iron deficiency, a simple change in lifestyle may be all that is needed to alleviate the sufferer from the disorder entirely. By meditating, working out and reducing their stress the stress inducing sufferer will lessen his or her symptoms, and by adding more iron to their diet through food or supplements, the iron induced sufferer will often feel better.

Others may not be as lucky and may need to take pain relievers, take baths, get massages or apply hot and cold packs in order to alleviate the symptoms. Another suggestion made by The Mayo Clinic in regards to treatment of restless legs syndrome is to avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. It seems that these items can create the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

As we mentioned above, it is important that you see a physician if you are experiencing any symptoms of chronic pain—even if you think it is just restless legs syndrome. Because it could be something more serious, you need a full medical evaluation immediately.

Last updated on Jan 3rd, 2010 and filed under Sleep Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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