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What is Restless Legs Syndrome – Causes and Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder involving an uncontrollable urge of moving the body and get relief from an unpleasant sensation in the legs, arms or torso. An estimated 7 – 10 percent people suffer from this condition in North America and Europe. It is twice more common in women than men, and white people are found to be more prone to it than African Americans. This article tries to understand the causes and symptoms of this disorder.

Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome:

  • There are two forms of this disease. They are either primary and secondary RLS. The cause of primary RLS is not known.
  • The onset of this disease is slow and begins around the 40-45 years of age.
  • Primary RLS may not be present for months or years together, but can reappear later in life, getting worse with ageing.
  • There are chances of this disease being misdiagnosed in children as growing pains.
  • The secondary form of RLS occurs at the age of 40, and is mostly associated with some medical conditions or because of the use of certain drugs.
  • Low levels of the chemical dopamine is believed to be a cause of RLS according to research studies.
  • Iron deficiency is observed to cause 20 percent of all cases of RLS.
  • Use of medicines like antiemetics, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants can worsen the disease.
  • In 60 percent of cases, this disease is found to be hereditary and four genes namely MEIS1, BTBD9, MAP2K5 and PTPRD are found to be associated with RLS. However, their role in causing this disease is not understood yet.

Conditions which can worsen RLS are pregnancy, surgery, auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Sj√∂gren’s syndrome and celiac disease, varicose vein or venous reflux, magnesium deficiency, folate deficiency, magnesium deficiency, diabetes, sleep apnea, uremia, peripheral neuropathy, thyroid disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome:

  • Sensations in the legs and urge to move. some of the words used by the patients to described the sensations are uncomfortable, electrical, antsy, creeping, itching, painful, pins and needles, creepy-crawly, pulling, numbness and ants inside the legs.
  • Motor restlessness with relief provided by some form of movement.
  • Worsening of sensations and urges by relaxation
  • Varying of these symptoms all along the day, with symptoms becoming worse at night.

The above symptoms are also the criteria of this disorder according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

1 response to What is Restless Legs Syndrome – Causes and Syndrome

  1. Very good article. Since I am a sufferer I like to see what information it out there. It appalls me to see all the misinformation put out. RLS has a tough enough time being recognized as a “real” disorder that we need all the quality information we can get.

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