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What's the Deal with: Restless Leg Syndrome

What's the Deal with: Restless Leg Syndrome

There are so many things that can keep me up at night, from worrying about mundane details to my husband's snoring. I just learned of a recently named syndrome that keeps an estimated 12 million Americans up at night. While it sounds almost completely fabricated, it is real and it is known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

It is more than the little leg fidget folks get when bored during the slow part of a movie. People with RLS describe the sensations as a "tugging" or "creepy crawly" feeling in the leg. It is clinically defined as a neurologic movement disorder characterized by unusual, uncomfortable sensations deep within the calves and/or thighs, resulting in an irresistible urge to move the legs in attempts to alleviate the discomfort. Because the majority of people with RLS experience symptoms at night that prevent them from sleeping the syndrome has been classified as a sleep disorder, although extended inactivity, such as long periods of sitting, can also trigger the symptoms.

The cause of the condition remains a mystery, but the handful of scientists researching the syndrome have differing theories. One thinks there may be a genetic component, while another believes low levels of iron in the brain are a contributing factor. Treatment options vary as well. Sedatives are an option, as is acupuncture. A healthy lifestyle can ameliorate the symptoms - exercise, not smoking, consuming only moderate forms of alcohol.

If you think you have RLS, you should definitely visit the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation. You are sure to find some answers to the many question you might be having.

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