Restless Leg Syndrome

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Overview

Restless leg syndrome is a health condition in which there is an uncontrollable urge to move the leg, in response to an uncomfortable feeling in the leg. This movement of the leg temporarily eases the uncomfortable feeling. The disorder can begin at any age and worsens progressively with age.

Causes

There is no specific cause identified for restless leg syndrome as yet. There is some research supporting dopamine imbalance theory. Risk factors for the development of restless leg syndrome include:

Symptoms

The primary symptom is an uncontrollable urge, to move the leg. Some of the following symptoms may accompany this urge:

  • Sensations begin at rest – when the patient has been sitting still for some time, that is when the sensations begin. This is why the symptoms occur mostly during the evening and night when the patient is lying down.

A variety of sensations can be felt, some of which are listed below:

  • Crawling
  • Creeping
  • Pulling
  • Aching
  • Itching
  • Throbbing
  • The sensations are relieved with movement – when the patient moves the leg (by jiggling, stretching, walking), the sensation stops.
  • Nighttime leg twitching – legs twitch and kick throughout the night while the patient sleeps.

Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of this health condition, specific criteria have been established:

  • You have a strong, irresistible urge to move your legs, usually because of uncomfortable sensations typically described as crawling, creeping, cramping, tingling or pulling.
  • The symptoms start or get worse when you’re resting, such as sitting or lying down.
  • The symptoms are partially or temporarily relieved by activity, such as walking or stretching.
  • The symptoms are worse at night.
  • Symptoms can’t be explained solely by another medical or behavioral condition

If the patient history fulfills these criteria, then it can be diagnosed with restless leg syndrome.

Treatment

This disease is treated via medications. The various medications used to treat restless leg syndrome are listed below:

  • Drugs that increase dopamine in the brain
  • Drugs that affect calcium channels (Pregabalin, Neurotonin)
  • Opioids
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sleep medication
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