What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs. People with RLS often experience unpleasant sensations in their legs, such as crawling, tingling, itching, or aching, which are relieved by movement. These sensations typically occur when the person is at rest, especially during the evening or nighttime, and can disrupt sleep.

The exact cause of RLS is still unknown, but there are several factors that are believed to contribute to the development of the condition. It can be classified into two types: primary and secondary RLS. Primary RLS has no known underlying cause, while secondary RLS is associated with certain medical conditions or factors such as iron deficiency, kidney failure, pregnancy, peripheral neuropathy, and the use of certain medications.

The diagnosis of RLS is based on the presence of specific clinical criteria, including the urge to move the legs, uncomfortable sensations, worsening of symptoms at rest, and improvement with movement. It is important to differentiate RLS from other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as leg cramps, peripheral neuropathy, and certain movement disorders.

RLS - Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment for RLS focuses on managing symptoms and improving sleep quality. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, and establishing a regular sleep pattern may help alleviate symptoms. If an underlying medical condition is identified, treating that condition may improve RLS symptoms. Medications, including dopamine agonists, benzodiazepines, and anticonvulsants, are also prescribed in more severe cases or when symptoms significantly affect the person’s quality of life.

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