What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
By Jeremy D McConnell, MD
November 16, 2020
Category: Medical

More than 7% of the U.S. population may suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS), which occurs in both genders but more commonly in women and may begin at any age, according to the National Institutes of Health. At Bradenton, FL, Dr. Jeremy McConnell can help you manage this health condition at his office: Florida Sleep Specialists.

What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome, Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes "uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them." Signs and symptoms of RLS include:

  • irresistible urge to move
  • uncomfortable sensations in lower limbs (aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping)
  • sensations may occur on just one side of the body but usually both side are affected
  • symptom severity varies in severity and frequency from one day to another

Moving affected parts of the body relieves discomfort and minimizes sensations. People suffer from poor sleep quality since symptoms worsen at night or during the evening. This often wakes people up or makes it difficult to go to sleep at all. So sufferers of RLS usually have more refreshing sleep in the morning.

What causes RLS?

RLS is incurable and the true cause of it is largely unknown, but it's believed that there is a genetic component. Some evidence links low levels of iron in the brain to RLS.

There's also evidence, according to the National Institutes of Health, that RLS is related to a dysfunction in a section of the brain that controls movement that uses dopamine, a neurochemical that aids in muscle activity and movement.

How to Manage RLS

At Bradenton, Dr. McConnell helps patients manage their symptoms. If RLS is caused by an underlying medical condition, like iron-deficiency anemia, treating that condition may rid you of RLS. If not, there are other ways to help deal with RLS:

  • Lifestyle changes, like avoiding smoking and maintaining a regular sleep pattern.
  • Taking iron supplements.
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Dopaminergic agents that increase the dopamine effect reduce symptoms of RLS
  • Opioids, like methadone, codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone
  • Benzodiazepines to help you obtain a more restful sleep

Would you like to speak with a sleep disorder specialist?

If you would like to speak with Dr. Jeremy McConnell of Florida Sleep Specialists in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL, just call (941) 792-8383 today!

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