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Having trouble sleeping at night? You're also experiencing an uncontrollable urge to move your legs? Then you're probably suffering from a condition known as restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. It is a neurological sleep disorder that causes an overwhelming urge to move your legs.
Why it is considered a sleep disorder? Because it usually happens or gets worse while you're at rest or sleeping. People with this condition find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Restless leg syndrome can occur at any age and can become worse gradually if not treated on time. Characteristics of RLS include unpleasant sensations in their legs or feet, relief with movement, and nightime leg twitching. The symptoms of restless leg syndrome get worsen in the evening.
There is no known cause for the condition. However, researchers believe that an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine may be the culprit. This chemical sends messages to control muscle movement.
Heredity and pregnancy are two other factors that are thought to cause this problem. Some women get RLS during pregnancy, but symptoms often disappear after delivery.
Women are more likely to develop this condition than men. While RLS can develop at any age, it is seen commonly in adults.
Doctors may perform a physical and a neurological exam to diagnose the condition. Often dopamine increasing drugs are used to treat patients with restless leg syndrome. Opioids and muscle relaxants may help get rid of the problem too.
If you think you may have restless leg syndrome, see a doctor as soon as possible. This condition can disrupt your sleep and affect your quality of life.
Restless leg syndrome may sometimes accompany other medical conditions, such as:
Peripheral neuropathy: Chronic diseases like restless leg syndrome may damage the nerves present in your hands and feet. This in turn may also cause RLS.
Iron deficiency: If you have iron deficiency, you are also at risk of suffering from restless leg syndrome.
Kidney failure: Loss of kidney function may decrease the iron levels in the body. Iron deficiency, may in turn, cause restless leg syndrome.
Spinal cord conditions: If you have lesions on your spinal cord, you may be at risk of developing RLS.
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