What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome, or Willis-Ekbom disorder, is a neurological sensorimotor condition that can cause you to have an overwhelming urge to move your legs while you are resting. This impulse, which can result in significant sleep disruption and diminished quality of life, is often accompanied by painful or otherwise uncomfortable sensations. For instance, some people describe feeling as if “ants were crawling up their legs” or “soda is running through their veins.”

In many cases, the root cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown. Some experts believe that genetics may play a role in its development. Other factors associated with the condition or the worsening of its symptoms include iron deficiency, chronic conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease, anemia, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy), certain medications, pregnancy, and sleep deprivation.

Currently, there is no known cure for restless leg syndrome. The key to living comfortably with the condition is managing the associated discomfort, which can often be accomplished with lifestyle changes. Because the symptoms can vary widely among individuals, it’s important to work with a healthcare provider who can recommend an individualized treatment approach. Some possible steps to consider include:

  • Reviewing your medication use (some drugs, such as those commonly used to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure, nausea, colds, allergies, and depression, can worsen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome)
  • Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet
  • Reducing your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeine
  • Quitting tobacco use
  • Getting sufficient rest
  • Taking iron, vitamin B12, or folate supplements if an underlying deficiency is identified
  • Taking physician-prescribed medications, such as dopamine promoters

Some people are able to find temporary relief by stretching, walking, taking a hot or cold bath, massaging their legs, applying hot or cold packs, or practicing relaxation techniques. Also, if you must stay seated for an extended period of time, you might try keeping your mind engaged with discussion, television, video games, needlework, or other activities.

If you have questions about restless legs syndrome or any other health-related topic, feel free to contact or visit the physicians at South Tampa Immediate Care.