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What is Restless Legs Syndrome? Common Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment



Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a nervous system disorder. It causes an unpleasant sensation in the legs, which creates an urge to move them to relieve the feeling. If you have this condition, you might have trouble sitting or sleeping for long periods which may cause further problems in your routine activities. This condition can occur at any age and worsen with age. However, early diagnosis and treatment can manage your symptoms. 

The following are the causes, symptoms, and treatment of RLS.

Causes and Risk Factors of Restless Legs Syndrome:

  • Chemical Imbalance : RLS can be caused by an imbalance in the brain chemical, dopamine. 
  • Hereditary : Family history is a major cause of RLS, especially if you have the condition before turning 40. 
  • Pregnancy : Some women may have restless legs syndrome, especially in the last trimester of their pregnancy. The symptoms may temporarily worsen due to hormonal changes, but they disappear within a month after delivery. 

Other factors that may increase your risk of developing RLS are:

  • Kidney Failure: If your kidneys do not function properly, you may have anemia and iron deficiency. These conditions and other chemical changes in your body may cause or worsen RLS.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Chronic diseases like alcoholism and diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet and cause restless legs syndrome. 
  • Spinal Cord Conditions: RLS may occur if lesions on your spinal cord are damaged or injured. Injecting anesthesia to the spinal cord also increases your risk of developing restless legs syndrome. 
  • Iron Deficiency : Iron deficiency is caused by repeatedly donating blood, heavy menstrual periods, or a history of bleeding from the bowels or stomach. Iron deficiency can cause or worsen RLS. 

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

An urge to move your legs is the major symptom but other signs of this condition are:

  • The sensation begins if you sit or sleep for a long period and might worsen in the evening or nighttime
  • Leg twitching and kicking at night

The unpleasant sensations might happen on both sides of the body. The symptoms might sometimes disappear and may fluctuate in severity. The sensations occurring within the limbs are:
Crawling 

  • Pulling
  • Throbbing
  • Itching
  • Creeping 
  • Aching

The sensations may be difficult to explain and patients usually do not describe the condition as a muscle cramp or numbness. People suffering from RLS often mention the desire to move their legs.

Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosis

Your physician will review your medical history and symptoms. Your diagnosis is based on your symptoms and the following factors:

  • An urge to move your legs, along with unpleasant sensations
  • Your symptoms begin or worsen at night or while resting
  • An urge that stops temporarily or partially by activities such as walking and stretching
  • Symptoms are not solely caused by other medical or behavioral condition 

Your doctor may perform a physical and neurological exam to determine other possible causes of your symptoms or a blood test to check for iron deficiency. 

Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment

Treating an underlying medical condition such as anemia or iron deficiency can help manage your symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe certain medications that reduce your symptoms, help you sleep better, and increase dopamine in your brain. 
Remember, severe RLS can hamper life quality and can cause depression and insomnia. If you are looking for the best vascular clinic in Johns Creek and the North Atlanta area to treat your restless legs syndrome, contact us today or schedule an appointment with us at North Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center. 


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North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic is a vascular surgery center located in Johns Creek, Cumming, Roswell, and Lawrenceville, Georgia. We stand out in professionalism and kindness. Our expert doctors and health care providers are known for their clinical excellence, experience, and can help you with the care you need. Our vein disease specialists offer a comprehensive examination that includes a physical examination, review of your symptoms, and discussion of your medical history. We use advanced venography techniques and provide effective treatment for several health conditions like DVT, Spider Veins, Leg Cramps, MTS, and more. Visit our website, connect with us on social media, or contact us to get accurate diagnosis and treatment for all your vascular diseases.