Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a sleep-related movement disorder which is best known for its often unpleasant and overwhelming urge to move your legs while resting. RLS symptoms develop during inactivity and are more severe in the evening and nighttime hours. The symptoms are temporarily relieved by pressure or movement and can extremely disrupt someone’s sleep and daily life. Also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, RLS affects 10% of adult Americans according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The most common type of RLS is Primary RLS and is referred to as familial RLS because it is hereditary or idiopathic RLS because its cause is unknown. Secondary RLS is believed to be associated with the use of certain drugs or prompted by a separate underlying medical condition. The exact cause of RLS is unknown but it affects both men and women and can start at any age although the severity of the disorder seems to increase with age.
Each person’s experience with RLS is different and often the symptoms are difficult to describe for those suffering with it. According to the National Sleep Foundation Organization, you may have RLS and should talk to a health care professional if you experience the following.
• Experience uncomfortable leg sensations which could be described as crawling, creeping, burning, aching, or tugging. While usually described as irritating or uncomfortable, some people describe them as painful.
• Partial or total relief of leg sensations by movement such as shaking, rocking, or pacing.
• Symptoms worsen or begin during rest such as sitting or lying down.
• Your symptoms increase during the day and are worse in the evening while often peaking at night.
While there is no specific diagnostic test for RLS, the process starts with an initial and extensive evaluation and medical history. Often, tests will be conducted to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms. Our doctors may also refer you to have a sleep study at our cutting edge sleep center location in Largo to determine if you are suffering from RLS or there are other causes to your sleep disturbance.
We ask that you also bring a complete family history and a sleep diary with your on your first appointment. You should record in your sleep diary when your symptoms occur, when they are most severe, what activities you were doing before onset, when you got to bed, approximately when you fall asleep, any times you wake up along with duration, and what time you get out of bed daily for at least two weeks.
Although approximately one in ten Americans suffer from RLS, it is frequently unrecognized, misdiagnosed and poorly managed by many health care providers. The practitioners at Bay Area Chest Physicians are highly experienced and skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of sleeping disorders including RLS. Many people endure their symptoms for 10-20 years before getting a diagnosis. They experience poor quality and short sleep at night which can greatly reduce the quality of life without proper treatment. You do not have to continue to suffer with RLS. Call our office today to get the answers you need from knowledgeable doctors who are skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of RLS and other sleep disorders.