Restless Leg Syndrome – Sleep Disorder
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that is characterised by an irresistible urge to move one’s legs. It is poorly understood , often misdiagnosed, and believed to be a neurological disorder. Many doctors express the view that the incidence of restless leg syndrome is exaggerated by manufacturers of drugs used to treat it. Other physicians consider it a real entity that has specific diagnostic criteria. Many people tap their feet or shake their legs resulting from a nervous tic, consumption of stimulants, drug side-effects or other factors; this is usually innocuous, unnoticed, and does not interfere with daily life, quite distinct from Restless Leg Syndrome.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) (which is also sometimes referred to as Jimmy Legs) may be described as uncontrollable urges to move the limbs to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations in the body, most commonly in the legs, but can also be in the arms and torso. Moving the affected body part modulates the sensations, providing temporary relief.
Its symptoms include, An urge to move, usually due to uncomfortable sensations that occur primarily in the legs. The sensations are unusual and unlike other common sensations, and those with RLS have a hard time describing them. People use words such as: uncomfortable, antsy, electrical, creeping, painful, itching, pins and needles, pulling, creepy-crawly, ants inside the legs, and many others. The sensation and the urge can occur in any body part; the most cited location is legs, followed by arms. Some people have little or no sensation, yet still have a strong urge to move.
Motor restlessness, expressed as activity, that relieves the urge to move. Movement will usually bring immediate relief, however, often only temporary and partial. Walking is most common; however, doing stretches, yoga, biking, or other physical activity may relieve the symptoms. Constant and fast up-and-down movement of the leg, coined “sewing machine legs” by at least one RLS sufferer, is often done to keep the sensations at bay without having to walk. Sometimes a specific type of movement will help a person more than another.
Worsening of symptoms by relaxation. Any type of inactivity involving sitting or lying – reading a book, a plane ride, watching TV or a movie, taking a nap – can trigger the sensations and urge to move. This depends on several factors: the severity of the person’s RLS, the degree of restfulness, the duration of the inactivity, etc.
Variability over the course of the day-night cycle, with symptoms worse in the evening and early in the night. While some only experience RLS at bedtime and others experience it throughout the day and night, most sufferers experience the worst symptoms in the evening and the least in the morning. Often sufferers think they are the only ones to be afflicted by this peculiar condition and are relieved when they find out that many others also suffer from it. The severity and frequency of the disorder vary tremendously. Many people only experience symptoms when they try to sleep, while others experience symptoms during the day. It is common to have symptoms on long car rides or during any long period of inactivity (like watching television or a movie, attending a musical or theatrical performance, etc.) Approximately 80-90% of people with RLS also have PLMD, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, which causes slow “jerks” or flexions of the affected body part. These occur during sleep (PLMS = Periodic Limb Movement while Sleeping) or while awake (PLMW – Periodic Limb Movement while Waking).