You are ready to get into bed and fall fast asleep; however, your legs have other plans. Perhaps you feel as if your legs have a mind of their own and feel the urge to just keep moving. Whether you’ve experienced this feeling while lying in bed or relaxing on the couch after a long day at work, you may be dealing with restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Restless leg syndrome is a nervous system disorder in which people feel this need to move their legs. This condition may also be classified as a sleep disorder if you are someone who experiences this throughout the night and, as a result, has trouble sleeping.
Besides feeling the urge to keep your legs moving, those with RLS may also feel a “pins and needles” sensation in the legs. You will notice these symptoms most often while sitting or lying down. While people may have symptoms of RLS that are milder, those with severe leg discomfort may find it near impossible to sleep at night.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to pinpoint the root cause of someone’s RLS; however, one factor that most people with RLS have is that family members have also dealt with RLS during their lifetime. Of course, there are certain factors that can trigger RLS episodes such as:
- Chronic illnesses (e.g. peripheral neuropathy; diabetes)
- Medication (e.g. antihistamines; antidepressants)
- Lack of sleep
While there is no diagnostic test out there that will definitively prove whether someone has RLS, you should visit your podiatrist for an evaluation. While a blood test may be performed in order to determine whether a certain medical disorder could be the cause, most of the time just discussing your symptoms, as well as your personal and family medical history is all that’s needed for your foot doctor to determine whether you have RLS.
Since there is no cure for RLS, the most important thing your podiatrist can do is help you manage your symptoms and to improve your sleep. In people with mild-to-moderate RLS, most of the time certain lifestyle modifications is all that’s needed. Certain lifestyle changes include:
- Regular exercise
- Adopting better sleep habits
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol, caffeine and tobacco products
Sometimes medications are also prescribed to help treat symptoms of RLS. Common medications include benzodiazepines (sedative), narcotics, anticonvulsants and dopaminergic drugs.
If you believe RLS is affecting your quality of sleep then it’s time you turned to a foot specialist who can get to the bottom of your symptoms and help you manage your condition more effectively.