What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes an unpleasant prickling or tingling in the legs, especially in the calves, that is relieved by moving or massaging them.
Symptoms of RLS
- People who have RLS feel a need to stretch or move their legs to get rid of the uncomfortable or painful feelings.
- As a result, it may be difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. One or both legs may be affected.
- Some people also feel the sensations in their arms. These sensations also can occur when lying down or sitting for long periods of time, such as while at a desk, riding in a car, or watching a movie.
PLMS and RLS
- Many people who have RLS also have brief limb movements during sleep, often with abrupt onset, occurring every 5–90 seconds.
- This condition, known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS), can repeatedly awaken people who have RLS, reducing their total sleep time and interrupting their sleep.
- Some people have PLMS but have no abnormal sensations in their legs while awake.
How do you diagnose RLS?
- Doctors usually can diagnose RLS by patients’ symptoms and a telltale worsening of symptoms at night or while at rest.
- Doctors may order a blood test to check ferretin levels (ferretin is a form of iron).
- Doctors also may ask people who have RLS to spend a night in a sleep laboratory, where they are monitored to rule out other sleep disorders and to document the excessive limb movements.
Treatment of RLS
- RLS is treatable but not always curable. Dramatic improvements are seen quickly when patients are given dopamine-like drugs or iron supplements.
- Alternatively, people who have milder cases may be treated successfully with sedatives or behavioral strategies such as stretching, taking a hot bath, or massaging the legs before bedtime.
- Avoiding caffeinated beverages also can help reduce symptoms, and certain medications (e.g., some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) may cause RLS.
- If iron or vitamin deficiency underlies RLS, symptoms may improve with prescribed iron, vitamin B12, or folate supplements. Some people may require anticonvulsant medications to control the creeping and crawling sensations in their limbs.
- Others who have severe symptoms that are associated with another medical disorder or that do not respond to normal treatments may need to be treated with pain relievers.
Sleep disorders management
What are the treatments for sleep disorders?
Treatments for sleep disorders depend on which disorder you have. They may include
- How are sleep disorders managed?
Sleep Clinic NYC
Common sleep disorders and the treatment options
- Good sleep habits
- Cognitive behavioral therapy or relaxation techniques
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for sleep apnea
- Bright light therapy for delayed sleep phase syndrome
- For insomnia, in addition to behavior therapy, there are prescription and non-prescription medications such as melatonin, Zolpidem (Ambien), Zaleplon (Sontata), Eszopiclone (Lunesta) etc.
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