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Restless Leg Syndrome Not Just A Symptom of Stress

Recent studies have shown that restless leg syndrome, also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, has long been associated with stress and menopause, may be an underlying symptom of a greater problem. The findings of this new research was published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and includes statistics regarding more than twelve-thousand men who suffered from RLS.

What the researchers discovered was that those who suffered from restless leg syndrome had a greater risk of early mortality, than those who didn’t. This could be caused by illnesses or diseases yet to be realized, or as a symptom to a natural imbalance of some kind, chemically or hormonally. Medical News Today explains: “In earlier analyses of the same data, men with RLS were more likely to be diagnosed with lung disease, endocrine disease, diseases of nutrition and metabolism and immune system problems.”

The lead researcher on the project was concerned that restless leg syndrome should be taken more seriously, and used as an indicator that screening for more serious illnesses is a necessity. By monitoring the link between RLS and serious health conditions, the medical world could potentially pinpoint illnesses before they strike, and begin treatment early enough to eradicate the disease completely. In other instances, it may only offer the ability to slow the ailment and reduce alternative symptoms which could potentially appear over time.

Understanding The Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome usually appears during the night when men and women are trying to rest or sleep, and can be brought on by a long period of inactivity. It can also be caused by overuse of muscles, which produces tension and stiffness later in the day. The syndrome shows itself by creating discomfort in the leg muscles, which then causes the sufferer to move the legs continuously. Sometimes this discomfort appears in the form of prickling, itching, pain, or tenseness in the muscles and skin of the leg tissues. The Sleep Foundation writes: “Restless Legs Syndrome affects approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. Researchers believe that RLS is commonly unrecognized or misdiagnosed as insomnia or other neurological, muscular or orthopedic condition. RLS also affects about 2% of children, according to a study of more than 10,000 families in the U.S. and U.K. The study also found a strong genetic component to RLS; more than 70% of children with RLS had at least one parent with the condition. There is also evidence suggesting that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a family history of RLS are at risk for more severe ADHD.”

For some sufferers, the syndrome is more of an annoyance than anything else, and following a few hours of restlessness, men and women are able to ignore it and carry on normally. For others, however, it can border on painful, and make it impossible to carry out everyday tasks or sleep through the night. This is when it becomes necessary to take medical action and seek out the opinion of a professional.

Restless Leg Syndrome can appear in both men and women, but is more commonly found in women, especially those undergoing the changes of menopause. The overall cause is unknown, making it difficult to treat, but some diseases such as Parkinson’s and Diabetes have been known to bring it on. Web MD advises: “Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery. Other factors, including alcohol use and sleep deprivation, may trigger symptoms or make them worse. Improving sleep or eliminating alcohol use in these cases may relieve symptoms.”

If restless leg syndrome is beginning to affect your life, current research shows that your best chance at avoiding future issues is to speak to a physician. Your doctor may want to administer you for a few tests to rule out RLS as a sign for something more serious, before determining the best line of treatment.

Treating RLS

Because there is no one underlying reason for restless leg syndrome, there is no cure to get rid of the ailment altogether. Fortunately, there are many ways to ease the discomfort and find some normalcy in your body again. One method which many men and women turn to when pins and needles begin is to alter the temperature through means of a hot water bottle or ice pack. Cooling or warming the leg muscles can work to calm the restlessness and offer some relief.

Another way to ease the tension in your legs is to get up and walk around. Much of the time, RLS is brought on by inactivity, and requires some motion to help blood flow regulation and decrease discomfort. If you are unable to exercise, a hot bath can also relax the muscles enough to quiet the restlessness and offer some relief.

Of course all of these treatments only offer temporary relief, which is why it is important to visit your doctor and determine the reason for the disturbance. In some cases, there may be no one treatment to aid in ridding you of the RLS, in others, your physician may realize that it is being caused by something in particular which can then be treated. Before administering any intense new treatment for your restless leg syndrome, speak to a medical professional in regards to the safety of the treatment. Even natural methods of controlling these symptoms can be dangerous if not followed and applied correctly.

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