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What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

What is RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome)? Understanding Restless Leg Syndrome

Are you one of the millions of people wondering why do my legs ache at night in bed? It could be that you overdid yourself in terms of physical exercise. It could be something like shin splints, as well. However, it’s also possible that you’re suffering from RLS, or restless leg syndrome. What is restless leg syndrome? Why do you feel leg pain at night in bed? We’ll explore the condition, the symptoms of restless leg syndrome and more.


What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), restless leg syndrome is defined as, “a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them.”




From that definition, we can determine that RLS is not related to actual muscle pain or any physical condition, although the symptoms definitely manifest as physical discomfort. This is a neurological disorder, which means that your nervous system is involved.


Signs and Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

It’s possible for people to have restless feet at night, or feel the need to move their legs, without actually having restless leg syndrome. For instance, many children find leg movement while lying down to be soothing, and moving the legs or feet can be a self-soothing technique. However, for adults, the need to move your legs, or the sensation that your skin is crawling, can be signs that you’re suffering from RLS. Some of the other signs and symptoms of restless leg syndrome include the following:


  • Itching of the legs, feet or calves
  • Tingling in the legs, feet or calves


  • Crawling sensations in the skin of your legs, feet or calves
  • An almost uncontrollable urge to move your legs and feet to alleviate the discomfort
  • Tossing and turning, or rubbing your legs together
  • Sleep disturbances and sleepiness during the day


  • Jerking limb movements that occur while asleep or awake but resting


It’s important that some people with RLS only notice symptoms every now and then, while others may experience them every night. Some deal with symptoms for months or years, while for some, it is a lifelong condition.


How Long Will It Last (symptoms of RLS?)

It’s important to understand that there is no cure for RLS. For some patients, it can last a few months. For others, it can be a lifelong issue. There are a few treatment options that have shown promise, including magnesium therapy, physical exercise, a reduction in drinking, quitting smoking, massage, and the use of prescribed nerve medication. In order to receive any nerve medication, though, you will need to be medically diagnosed with restless leg syndrome by a professional.




What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome at Night?


The underlying causes of restless leg syndrome is not well understood, although there are several potential causes of the condition. Heredity is one – most people who suffer from RLS have at least one other family member with the condition. Another issue could be medication. According to the NIH, there are quite a few medications that can cause restless legs at night, or at least trigger RLS symptoms, including:


  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Cold and allergy meds



Another factor to consider is the presence of chronic disease. Kidney disease and diabetes are both known to cause RLS symptoms, as is peripheral neuropathy.


There is also a link between magnesium and restless leg syndrome (RLS). What’s the connection between restless syndrome and magnesium? A study published through the US National Library of Medicine points out that oral magnesium supplements were able to reduce the symptoms of RLS in some patients, so the connection may be that low magnesium causes at least some of the symptoms you are experiencing.




The connect requires further study, though, and there may be the possibility that those taking additional magnesium to combat RLS symptoms may build up a tolerance, requiring larger and larger doses to see relief.


Restless leg syndrome can be uncomfortable at best, and cause sleep deprivation in a worst-case scenario. If you are suffering from the symptoms of RLS, you can find help. Many treatment options can provide at least some relief and allow you to get the sleep you need.


Also see..

Magnesium and Leg Cramps

Recognising symptoms of Fibromyalgia


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