Restless leg syndrome is a sleep disorder that causes pain in the legs.
Specifically restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder in which a person will feel tingling, creeping, pulling, itching or gnawing sensations in the legs. It is difficult to describe exactly the sensation one feels but it can be difficult to lay still or rest, as movement eases the problem.
For the most part, symptoms are rarely described as painful, but more as if one is experiencing an ache and it is most noticeable at rest, hence why many people find it difficult to get to sleep or to sit and rest for a while.
This sleep disorder tends to begin slowly and becomes more and more frequent over time. Many women find themselves with this disorder during pregnancy especially in the later stages.
Symptoms often get worse during the evening and later on at night. It can also lead to insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness due to the sleep deprivation it causes.
If the condition becomes severe or chronic it can also prevent you from or limit you from doing certain activities. Travelling by car or plane, sitting in a meet or even watching a movie can become too much as it becomes almost impossible to sit still for any length of time.
The sensations that people experience are described as: prickly, creeping, aching, like insects crawling inside the legs, tingly. The most common area to be affects is the calf but it can be felt anywhere in both or just one leg.
There are 3 classifications for restless leg syndrome:
Primary or Familial – This is found to run in families.
Secondary – This appears as a result of another condition such as pregnancy, chronic disease or low iron levels.
Idiopathic – This is when one has no family history or no other condition that could be linked to it.
For some people symptoms may not occur every night and can come and go. It can often be weeks before it returns. In severe cases, a person can feel the same sensations in their arms
The causes of this sleep disorder are not very well known but it is thought that stress is a huge contributory factor to the condition. Other conditions can cause restless leg syndrome, for example up to 40% of pregnant women experience it. Also it has been shown that the condition can run in families but this isn’t in all cases or the majority.
Generally the best prevention is to exercise, eat healthy and maintain a stress-free or low stress lifestyle.