The Willis–Ekbom disease more commonly referred to as the Restless Leg Syndrome is a disorder of the nerves that is characterized by an irresistible need to move the limbs. The lower limbs (legs) are the most affected but the arms, face and genitals can also be affected. Persons suffering from this condition describe a throbbing, polling, irritating, or creeping feeling that forces them to move their legs. This feeling can also be painful.
Restless Leg Syndrome: How it affects Sleep
The Restless Leg Syndrome can have a devastating effect on sleep. You see, this condition tends to affect its patient especially when they are at rest. Sleep is the most restful part of the 24 hours in day. If the urge to move your legs comes when you are sleeping, then it means that you cannot sleep properly. After waking up, it is becomes difficult to go back to sleep. In deed, it has been observed that the symptoms are most severe in the morning and at night.
In the US, studies show that about 10% of adults are affected by this condition. In most cases, the Restless Legs Syndrome is confused with conditions such as insomnia, muscular or orthopedic condition. Restless Leg Syndrome can also be easily confused with psychological conditions such as stress and depression. The RLS foundation has done studies that suggest that without good understanding of this sleeping disorder, all the symptoms would lead most clinicians to diagnose depression.
Restless Leg Syndrome: The Genetic Connection
The cause of Restless Leg Syndrome remains to be a mystery for now. However, it has a genetic relationship since about 50% of victims usually have a relative who has or had the disease. The secondary form of the disorder can be caused by an underlying condition such as kidney failure, pregnancy or Iron deficiency.
Parents having the Restless Leg Syndrome is not a guarantee that you will have the condition. However, it predisposes you such that if you are exposed to the right environmental factors, you will get the disease. A study done on 10,000 families in the US and UK showed that 2% of children in this families have the condition. More that 70% of the children with Restless Leg Syndrome have at least one parent also affected by the disease.
- An itching or tingling feeling in the legs especially at night and in the morning.
- The tingling or itching feeling cool down when the patient moves.
- Symptoms intensify when the patient is relaxing or at rest.
Patients who have Restless Leg Syndrome have classic symptoms of insomnia. They find it difficult to fall asleep and when they do, maintaining sleep is difficult. In fact, their sleep ends as soon as they begin feeling tingly. By extension, they feel drowsy and tired during the day.
Treatment and Prognosis
Restless Leg Syndrome is a disease that affects the patient for the rest of their lives after diagnosis. The disease has no cure but the symptoms and regularity of attacks can be controlled. Top among the aims of treatment is to increase the period of restful sleep. The symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome tend to become more serious with age.
The patient should evaluate and examine their life and get rid of all factors that increase the frequency of attacks. You should also help your doctor to confirm that you do not have a kidney disease. Pregnancy and iron deficiency should also be ruled out as a cause of the disease.