What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (also known as RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease) is a neurological disorder that causes you to have sudden, strong urges to move your legs. It affects between 5% and 10% of people worldwide and the exact cause is unknown. In this article I’m going to be taking a deeper look at restless leg syndrome, the main risk factors and the most effective treatments.
Restless Leg Syndrome Explained
As mentioned above, restless leg syndrome is characterized by a strong, often irresistible urge to move your legs. This urge presents itself differently in each person with some of the most common descriptions including crawling, discomfort, itching, pulling and tingling in the legs. The severity of this urge also varies between individuals with some people finding it slightly uncomfortable and others finding it extremely painful.
In most cases, restless leg syndrome is triggered by relaxing your legs. Moving your legs temporarily relieves the urge and it generally doesn’t come back until you rest your legs again.
Restless leg syndrome also gets worse at night and in most cases, people who have restless leg syndrome also suffer from periodic limb movement disorder (a sleep disorder which causes your legs to cramp and jerk while you sleep). This makes sleeping with restless leg syndrome very difficult.
Who Is At Risk For Restless Leg Syndrome?
Many experts believe that restless leg syndrome is caused by low levels of dopamine (a chemical that transmits signals between your brain and nerve cells) although the trigger behind these low dopamine levels is unknown. However, there are a number of risk factors which make you more likely to develop restless leg syndrome and these are highlighted in the list below:
1) Age: Restless leg syndrome is much more common in older adults.
2) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Around a quarter of children who develop ADHD also have restless leg syndrome.
3) Family History:About two thirds of people with restless leg syndrome have a family history of this disorder.
4) Gender: Women are much more likely to develop restless leg syndrome than men.
5) Kidney Dialysis:Approximately 40% of people who undergo kidney dialysis develop restless leg syndrome. However, it normally disappears once they have received a kidney transplant.
6) Nutrient Deficiency: People who are deficient in iron, magnesium and vitamin B9 are at a much higher risk of developing restless leg syndrome than people who consume adequate amounts of these nutrients.
7) Medications: Certain medications (including antidepressants, antihistamines and antipsychotic drugs) have been linked with an increased risk of restless leg syndrome.
8) Pregnancy: Around 20% of pregnant women develop restless leg syndrome at some point during their pregnancy. However, in most cases this form of restless leg syndrome is temporary and disappears within one month of the baby being born.
9) Race: Restless leg syndrome is much more common in Northern and Western Europe than other parts of the world.
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
Although restless leg syndrome is unpleasant and the exact cause is unknown, most of the time it can be treated naturally. The list below contains some of the top natural methods for treating restless leg syndrome:
1) Cut Back On Alcohol, Caffeine & Smoking: Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine all have a negative impact on restless leg syndrome, particularly at night time. If you’re a heavy consumer of any of these substances reducing your intake or giving up completely can have a hugely positive effect on your restless leg syndrome.
2) Get Good Quality Sleep: Fatigue can make the symptoms of restless leg syndrome worse, so if you’re constantly feeling tired and run down, making the effort to get more sleep can help. To improve the quality of your sleep, try to establish a regular sleep cycle by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning.
3) Exercise Regularly: Keeping your legs moving prevents the symptoms of restless leg syndrome from setting in. The best part is that regular exercise also reduces the severity of these symptoms and makes restless leg syndrome much more manageable while you are relaxing.
4) Improve Your Diet: As mentioned above, being deficient in iron, magnesium or vitamin B9 can contribute to restless leg syndrome. The good news is that once you’ve identified this deficiency, eating more of these nutrients can reverse this effect and prevent restless leg syndrome.
I hope this article has helped you learn more about restless leg syndrome and the best ways to treat it. While it’s an unpleasant condition, positive lifestyle choices can be very beneficial and minimize many of the negative symptoms. So if you’re suffering, give the natural treatments discussed in this article a try and start enjoying a better quality of life today.
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