The Millstone Times April 2022

♥ HEALTH & WELLNESS Restless Leg Syndrome By Pam Teel

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncon- trollable urge to move the legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you're sitting or lying down. Moving around helps the unpleas- ant feeling temporarily. Known as Willis-Ekbom disease, (RLS) can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age. Simple self-care steps and lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms. Medications also help many people with (RLS). The chief symptom is an urge to move the legs. Some characteris- tics of (RLS) include: sensations that begin while resting. This sen- sation typically begins after you've been lying down, or sitting for an extended time, such as in a car, airplane, or movie theater. The only relief you get is with movement. The more you move, the sen- sation lessens. Nighttime leg twitching is common in people with (RLS). It may also be associated with another, more common condi- tion called periodic limb movement of sleep, which causes the legs to twitch and kick, possibly throughout the night, while you sleep. People typically describe (RLS) symptoms as compelling, unpleasant sensations in the legs or feet. They usually happen on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the sensations affect the arms. The sensations,

which generally occur within the limb, rather than on the skin, are usually described as crawling, creeping, pulling, throbbing, burning, and aching. Peo- ple with (RLS) usually don't describe the condition as a muscle cramp or numbness. They do, however, consistently describe the desire to move the legs. It's common for symptoms to fluctuate in severity. Sometimes symptoms disappear for periods of time, but then come back. Some people with (RLS) never seek medical attention because they worry that they won't be taken seriously. (RLS) can interfere with your sleep and cause daytime drowsiness and affect your quality of life. Often, there's no known cause for (RLS). Researchers suspect that the condition may be caused by an imbalance of the brain chemical, dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement. Sometimes (RLS) runs in families, especially if the condition starts before age 40. Researchers have identi- fied sites on the chromosomes where genes for (RLS) may be present. Pregnancy, or hormonal changes, may temporarily worsen (RLS) signs and symp- toms. Some women get (RLS) for the first-time during pregnancy, especially during their last trimester. Luckily, for most, symptoms usually disappear after delivery. (RLS) can develop at any age, even during childhood. The condition is more common with increasing age and more common in women than in men. It usually isn't related to a serious underlying medical problem. However, it sometimes accompanies other conditions, such as: Peripheral neuropa- thy-This damage to the nerves in the hands and feet is sometimes due to chronic diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism. Iron deficiency- Even without anemia, iron deficiency can cause or worsen (RLS). If you have a history of bleeding from the stomach or bowels, experience heavy menstrual periods, or repeatedly donate blood, you may have iron deficiency. Kidney failure- If you have kidney failure, you may also have iron deficiency, often with anemia. When kidneys don't function properly, iron stores in the blood can decrease. This and other changes in body chemistry may cause or worsen (RLS). Spinal cord conditions- Lesions on the spinal cord as a result of damage or injury have been linked to (RLS). Having had anesthesia to the spinal cord, such as a spinal block, also increases the risk of developing (RLS). Parkinson's disease- People who have Parkinson's disease and take certain medications called dopaminergic agonists have an increased risk of developing (RLS). Many people with (RLS) find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Severe (RLS) can cause marked impairment in life quality and can result in depression. Insomnia may lead to excessive daytime drowsiness. (RLS) may also interfere with napping. (RLS) can be treated, with care directed toward relieving symptoms. Moving the affected limb(s) may provide temporary relief. Sometimes (RLS) symp- toms can be controlled by finding and treating an associated medical condition, such as peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, or iron deficiency anemia. Even withdrawal from vasodilator drugs, sedatives, or imipramine (Tofranil -PM) can cause symptoms. Cigarette smoking is also linked to (RLS). Avoiding extreme exercise is advisable. Some natural remedies and treatment for (RLS) include: Adjust your bedtime, maintain a consistent bedtime, stretch before bedtime, eliminate caffeine and chocolate, enjoy a soak in the tub, experiment with temperature, get regular physical activity, move and stretch, and do deep breathing exercises. Diet is also critical to calm (RLS) symptoms. Being aware of the food and substances that you are putting into your body is probably one of the most important things. You can also try wrapping your legs with gentle pressure, and drinking tonic water. Natural home remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment also include the use of, chamomile tea, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar. Stay away from foods such as alcohol and caffeine, processed foods, fatty, fried foods, soda, and anything high in sugar.

34 The Millstone Times

April 2022

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