Signs of restless legs syndrome
The most distinctive characteristic of restless legs syndrome (RLS) is that symptoms begin while lying down and trying to relax and are relieved during movement. Because moving the legs or other parts of the body tends to relieve discomfort, people who experience RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent sensations. They may pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed. The four key signs of RLS, which are required for diagnosis include:
Symptoms of restless legs syndrome
The symptoms of RLS vary in severity and duration from person to person. Mild RLS occurs from time to time, with mild sleep disturbances. In moderately severe cases, symptoms occur once or twice a week but result in significant delay of sleep, with some disruption of daytime function. In severe cases of RLS, symptoms occur more than twice a week and result in significant interruption of sleep and impairment of daytime function. However, it's common for symptoms to fluctuate in severity, and occasionally symptoms disappear for periods of time.
People experiencing restless legs syndrome may find it difficult to describe symptoms. For example, a "creepy-crawly" feeling may be present in the legs that makes you want to move around. Or you may experience achy, tingly or burning sensations in your legs. In general, cases of restless legs syndrome tend to be worse during the evening or nights and are temporarily relieved in the morning. As a result, most people diagnosed with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can be describes as unpleasant sensations in the calves, thighs, feet or arms, often expressed as:
Sometimes people experience spontaneous improvement and relief from symptoms over a period of weeks or months. If improvements occur, however, they usually are present during the early stages of the disorder. In general, symptoms or restless legs syndrome become more severe over time.
Although restless legs syndrome doesn't lead to other serious conditions, symptoms can range from bothersome to incapacitating. Left untreated, restless legs syndrome causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue. The main complications of RLS include:
Mental health - Not getting enough sleep as a result of RLS can cause depression, mood swings, or other health problems. As a result of extreme fatigue, RLS can also cause the inability to concentrate and/or impaired memory.
Periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS) - RLS can be associated with PLMS, which causes involuntarily flexion and extension of the legs while sleeping. Hundreds of twitching or kicking movements may occur throughout the night without your awareness. More than four out of five people with RLS also experience PLMS.
Sleep disturbance - Most people diagnosed with restless legs sydnrome find it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep. This can make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. RLS can even prevent you from enjoying a daytime nap.
Quality of life - Many people who experience restless legs syndrome are exhausted, which affects jobs, personal relations, and activities of daily living.
When to seek help
Some people with restless legs syndrome never seek medical attention because they worry that their symptoms are too difficult to describe or won't be taken seriously. But because restless legs syndrome is a progressive disorder, tell your doctor about restless sensations as soon as you begin experiencing them.
If you are diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, see your doctor regularly to monitor changes in your symptoms. Regular check-ups can indicate whether treatment is working, or not and will help doctors decide to continue treatment over time. Furthermore, call your doctor if you notice treatment is no longer working or if you experience new symptoms.
The sooner that you see your doctor, then the sooner you can begin treatment. Also, by seeing your doctor, you’ll be able to determine if you are experiencing RLS or another disorder, possible of the nervous system. Keep reading for information on how doctors diagnose RLS.
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