Restless Legs Syndrome in Adults

Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurologic movement disorder characterized by unusual, uncomfortable sensations (paresthesias/dysesthesias) deep within the calves and/or thighs, resulting in an irresistible urge to move the legs, and motor restlessness in response to or in an effort to alleviate discomfort. common neurological disorder that causes pulling, tearing, and jerking sensations in the legs when a person is at rest. It is a feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the legs after going to bed (sometimes causing insomnia); may be relieved temporarily by walking or moving the legs. Restless legs syndrome (RLS, or Wittmaack-Ekbom’s syndrome) is poorly understood, often misdiagnosed, and believed to be a neurological disorder.

The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue.

The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown in most patients. However, restless leg syndrome has been associated with pregnancy, obesity, smoking, iron deficiency and anemia, nerve disease, polyneuropathy (which can be associated with hypothyroidism, heavy metal toxicity, toxins, and many other conditions), other hormone disease, such as diabetes, and kidney failure (which can be associated with vitamin and mineral deficiency).

As described above, people with RLS feel uncomfortable sensations in their legs, especially when sitting or lying down, accompanied by an irresistible urge to move about. These sensations usually occur deep inside the leg, between the knee and ankle; more rarely, they occur in the feet, thighs, arms, and hands. Although the sensations can occur on just one side of the body, they most often affect both sides.

The first principle of therapy to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS) is to avoid substances or foods that may be causing or worsening the problem. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine may partly relieve your symptoms. Your health care provider should review your medications and determine whether any drug you are taking could be causing the problem.

You may benefit from physical therapy, such as stretching, hot or cold baths, whirlpool baths, hot or cold packs, limb massage, or vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes before bedtime.

Supplementation to correct vitamin deficiencies, electrolytes, or iron may improve symptoms in some patients. In iron deficiency, for example, ferrous sulfate 325 mg may be given with 250 mg of vitamin C. Absorption is increased by taking this on an empty stomach and waiting 60 minutes before eating.

For mild symptoms, use an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce twitching and restless sensations. Cut back on alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Try taking a hot bath and massaging your legs before bedtime to help you relax. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help you relax before bed. Apply warm or cool packs, which can help relieve sensations in your legs.