Tingling or prickly sensation in the lower limbs, while taking rest is the most common symptom of restless leg syndrome. Scroll down to know more about the causes and treatment for this condition.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder (diseases that harm the central nervous system), wherein patients experience uncomfortable sensations in the legs while lying down or sitting, and are forced to move the legs frequently to get relief. Unpleasant sensation in any portion of the leg, especially the calf area, while taking rest or watching television, is a sure indication of RLS.
RLS symptoms are distinctive and different from muscle aches. In many people, the symptoms worsen at night, causing difficulty sleeping. The quality of sleep decreases, and may even lead to insomnia. The incidence of symptoms are not dependent on age, and can even occur in children. Although, RLS is not a serious condition, the symptoms can be bothersome. Mild symptoms are often noticed, while watching or traveling in an airplane. Rubbing the leg can relieve symptoms to a certain extent. Pregnant women often experience RLS symptoms, but these usually go away after delivery. Following are the symptoms of RLS:
- Tingling, itchy, or burning sensation in the thighs, calves or feet, when at rest; this causes daytime tiredness.
- Periodic leg movements provide some relief from those uncomfortable feelings.
- Pain similar to leg cramps occur at night.
- Relaxation results into worsening of the symptoms.
- Painful sensations are sometimes experienced in the hands and arms.
- Irritating sensation becomes so severe that it becomes difficult to sit at a stretch; the person has to stand up and take a few steps back and forth to ease the discomfort.
- Urge to move the legs; walking relieves discomfort considerably.
- Immediate relief from the prickly sensation, when there is movement of the legs.
- Stretching the legs or walking lessens the pain.
RLS is classified as being primary or secondary. Though, primary RLS is very common, researchers are still unable to find the exact cause of it. However, studies suggest that primary RLS is caused due to the deficiency of the chemical dopamine in the brain. This chemical is responsible for controlling muscle movement. Another study indicates that people diagnosed with RLS suffer from iron deficiency.
Secondary RLS is caused due to different medical conditions, such as anemia or peripheral neuropathy (severe damage to nerves of the legs and arms). Certain medications such as antidepressant or anticonvulsant drugs, or substances that include alcohol and caffeine can lead to secondary RLS. Other secondary causes of RLS are magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and kidney failure. Fatigue and stress may also worsen RLS symptoms.
RLS cannot be completely cured. Treatment is mainly given to reduce stress and relax the leg muscles. Although, RLS is not a life-threatening disorder, and does not lead to any severe consequences, the disorder can disrupt sleep to a great extent. For mild symptoms, pain relievers such as ibuprofen, are a good option. These painkillers can provide some relief from the twitching sensations.
Warm baths and regular massage to the legs can help to alleviate the pain. As stress can worsen these symptoms, relaxation techniques that include yoga and meditation are beneficial. Wearing compression stockings or wrapping legs in bandages can ease uncomfortable sensations. Individuals diagnosed with low iron must take iron supplements as prescribed by the doctor. Treating the underlying disease (neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease) can also show a lot of improvement in RLS patients.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.