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Questions and Answers about
Restless Leg Syndrome

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

How often do you wake up with a strange sensation in your legs and hard to control urges to move them?  People suffering from Restless leg syndrome (RLS) often have problems providing a description of what they feel.  

Some patients compare it to crawling insects under the skin or inside their legs, while others say it's more like burning, creeping or tugging.  The sensation may range from discomfort to pain in some individuals.  In most cases it is located between the knee and ankle, but occasionally may extend to the feet and thighs.

What are treatment options?

For sufferers with mild to moderate symptoms, certain lifestyle changes like avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco as well as exercise such as walking 2-3 hours before bedtime may reduce or even eliminate symptoms.  Another cause could be a diet that is insufficient in some necessary minerals.  You may need to take a supplement containing iron, folate, and magnesium.  Massaging the legs, taking a hot bath, or using an ice pack or heating pad can help some people.

Studies show that most patients with RLS are either depressed or stressed, that's why physicians may prescribe central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines, opioids, and anticonvulsants.  In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug specifically designed for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS in the U.S. - Requip.

What is the prognosis?

As of today there is no cure available for RLS which is usually a lifelong condition.

As you get older, symptoms may gradually get worse.  Some patients may experience periods during which symptoms decrease or disappear for a shorter or longer amount of time, although they usually come back sooner or later.

With current therapies it is possible to control the symptoms of this sleep disorder, giving the patient a chance for some restful sleep.

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