The jimmy legs. The heebie jeebies. The creepy crawlies. There are a lot of funny ways to describe restless legs syndrome (RLS), but anyone suffering from the condition knows there’s nothing funny about living with it.
Unfortunately, there is a general lack of awareness and understanding around RLS. Because of this, and because we realize some of our readers with muscle cramps might also have RLS, we’re dedicating this month’s article to RLS facts.
What Is It?
- Restless legs syndrome (also known as Willis-Ekbom disease) is a neurological condition causing an uncontrollable, overwhelming urge to move the legs.
- While uncomfortable and annoying for some people, RLS can be painful and debilitating for others, affecting their quality of sleep and even quality of life.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Aside from the urge to move the legs, RLS symptoms can include unpleasant sensations described as creeping, crawling, pulling, itching, and even electric. Many individuals with RLS have difficulty explaining the sensations.
- Most people have restless legs at night when they’re inactive. However, similar to muscle cramps, RLS symptoms can also occur after sitting for a long time, like on an airplane or during a long car ride.
Who Has It?
- Up to 10% of U.S. adults suffer from RLS.
- It can start at any age, but RLS tends to be more severe in older adults.
- Even though RLS and muscle cramps are two distinct conditions, research shows that the conditions may be comorbid—meaning that some people with RLS also get muscle cramps.
What Causes It?
While it’s not exactly known what causes RLS, researchers believe that a lack or imbalance of dopamine may contribute to RLS, and it may be genetic.
There are also “secondary causes” of RLS. For instance, RLS can develop as a complication of certain medical conditions. These may include:
- Iron deficiency
- Severe kidney disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Underactive thyroid
Certain medications can also be secondary causes of RLS or make RLS symptoms worse. These medications may include:
- Diphenhydramine (like Benadryl)
- Antidopaminergic medications (like those used to manage psychiatric disorders)
- Beta blockers
How’s It Diagnosed?
Doctors usually diagnose RLS based on a person’s symptoms. For instance, if you think you have RLS, your doctor might make the diagnosis if you:
- Have a strong urge to move your legs
- Experience some of the uncomfortable sensations described earlier in this article
- Have symptoms that start or get worse after resting for a long time
- Notice that your symptoms get better when you move around
- Have symptoms that worsen at night
Your doctor will also rule out the possibility of other conditions that can be mistaken for RLS.
How Do You Manage It?
Some things that may help relieve the symptoms of RLS include:
- Doing things to help you sleep better, like taking a bath or massaging your legs before bedtime
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- Treating an underlying condition that might be causing RLS symptoms
- Stopping medications that can cause RLS or make symptoms worse
There are prescription medications that can help relieve RLS symptoms, but many of them—like opioids—can cause side effects. If you have been diagnosed with RLS, ask your doctor or pharmacist if non-opioid Theraworx Relief is right for you.
In a research study including patients diagnosed with RLS, Theraworx Relief was shown to reduce symptoms commonly associated with and accompanying RLS, including muscle cramps and spasms.
Spread the Word!
Now that you have a better understanding of RLS, share your knowledge with others! Find out how you can help increase awareness of RLS.
Important note: If you think you may have RLS symptoms, consult your healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and management plan. This general information on restless legs syndrome is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional’s advice.