What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs when trying to sleep. People who have the condition have an irresistible urge to move their legs to get the sensation to go away. It is a sleep disorder that affects up to 10 percent of Americans. It can happen to anyone, but it is more common in women than men.

It is unknown exactly what causes restless legs syndrome. Genetics appear to play a role, as does not getting enough iron to the brain. It can be brought on by certain medical conditions such as kidney disease or pregnancy, alcohol and tobacco use, and some medications.

How do I know if I have restless legs syndrome?

If you have uncomfortable sensations in your legs at night, you might have restless legs syndrome. Some patients describe the sensations as creeping or crawling. Symptoms typically begin in the late afternoon or early evening and peak once you lie down to go to sleep. You will have an overwhelming urge to move your legs to get the sensation to go away.

What restless legs syndrome treatments are available?

Restless legs syndrome has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed with treatment. If the condition is related to a medication you’re taking, your doctor may be able to find you an alternative. If restless legs is related to another medical condition, such as anemia or diabetes, your doctor will help you control that condition. That may reduce the symptoms of your restless legs.

Other restless legs treatments include specialized foot wraps to keep the legs in a certain position during sleep, iron supplementation, prescription medication, and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes may include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, getting exercise, and taking warm baths or massaging the legs at night.

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