Restless Leg Syndrome Leads to Restless Sleep

After a night of restless sleep. (iStockphoto)
After a night of restless sleep. (iStockphoto)

Recently, one of my friends was diagnosed with restless leg syndrome (RLS). It is also known as Ekbom’s syndrome. It is a movement disorder. Important thing to remember is that it is not a psychological or emotional condition. It is thought to be a neurological disorder and it is believed that a brain chemical known as dopamine is involved.

About three to 15 per cent of the population is affected by RLS. It is more common in women than men. The prevalence increases with age. There may be a family history of the condition. Some medications can trigger RLS.

Individuals suffering from this disorder have a distressing need or urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by an uncomfortable, deep-seated sensation in the legs that is brought on by rest (sitting or lying down), relieved with moving or walking, or worse at night or in the evening.

RLS can be associated with involuntary limb movements while patient is awake and/or periodic limb movements (PLM) while patient is asleep. Studies show that more than 80 per cent of people with RLS also have PLMs. But the majority of people with PLMs do not have RLS.

The diagnosis of RLS is based on the clinical history. RLS may be a symptom of iron deficiency therefore the iron status should be assessed. Overnight sleep study may be helpful. There is no good medication to control the symptoms.

If you have unexplained leg pain then discuss your symptoms with your doctor and get proper investigations done at a sleep clinic.

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