Your body is a weird and wonderful thing made out of all these different pathways that allow you to move, feel, and think. Sensation is one of the most important aspects, as it aims to keep you safe and intact. The problem is that sometimes the body gets it wrong and you end up feeling abnormal sensations. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is one such disorder where you get an uncomfortable sensation with the need to move your legs. If you are struggling with this there are a number of ways to get around it.
What causes RLS?
- Iron deficiency: iron is an important carrier in the body and can alter the way you experience sensations. It has been said that one fifth of people with RLS have a deficiency of this element.
- Dopamine drop: there appears to be an association with RLS and dopamine drops, which is not surprising since dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and plays a role in movement.
- Genetic predisposition: you may have inherited certain genes from your parents that predispose you to iron or dopamine problems.
- Itching, burning or tickling sensation
- Unconscious movements of the limbs
- Inability to relax
Getting rid of RLS
- Iron supplementation: while this hasn’t been shown to cure you of RLS, it may help to reduce the severity of your symptoms. You can get more iron into your body by increasing the amount you take in from your diet, such as red meat and green leafy vegetables, or you can get supplements at the pharmacy.
- Dopamine agonists: these are drugs that are designed to increase the amount of dopamine to help reduce the RLS. In cases where the dopamine drop is due to something else, it is important to seek appropriate medical attention for further management.
- Opiates: these act at the level of your nerves, so it stands to reason that they can help modulate your perceptions. This will help improve RLS symptoms. It is important to note that this type of medication can cause sedation and impaired concentration so it should be used responsibly.
- Benzodiazepines: these have a number of effects on the body, and one of them is to relax the muscles. Just like opiates, benzodiazepines cause sedation so it should be used after the working day.
- Anticonvulsants: you may initially recognize that these sorts of drugs are used to treat epilepsy and other conditions with seizures, but anticonvulsants also have an important role in RLS. While many people will only have the symptoms of restlessness or tickling, some people are unfortunate enough to have pain as well, which further disturbs sleep. Anticonvulsants help to relieve this pain and remain amongst the best treatment modalities.
If you suffer from RLS it is important to get to a good doctor who can help you identify the problem and source appropriate treatment. Remember that using multiple modes at the same time can often have a better outcome.