SURPRISES ABOUT RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME

Have you heard of Restless Legs Syndrome? Do you know someone who has it? Have you ever wondered whether you might be suffering from it? RLS is one of those evasive conditions that quietly chips away at people’s quality of life. The discomfort can be vague and is easily blamed on just about anything – your mattress, your sheets, your spouse, or the temperature. In truth, Restless Legs Syndrome is real and far more common than most people realize. To help build awareness, we’re exploring some of the things you might not know about this uncomfortable condition.

It’s called Willis-Ekbom Disease.

Who knew? RLS doesn’t just mean that your legs move around when you sleep. It’s actually a neurological disorder in which abnormal sensations are felt in the legs. To be definitively diagnosed, the urge to move the legs to relieve uncomfortable sensations will likely need to be irresistible. If the pain or sensation isn’t relieved by movement, it likely has another cause.

It’s under-diagnosed.

Restless Legs Syndrome has multiple causes, and it varies in severity. For that reason, many people don’t even realize they’re suffering from it. Some individuals actually experience pain, while others describe “pins and needles” or a “creepy, crawly feeling.” The National Sleep Foundation estimates that about 10% of American adults have RLS. Its prevalence among pregnant women is even higher.

It happens to kids.

Is your child having trouble sleeping? Don’t rule out restless legs. The syndrome doesn’t distinguish by age or gender, and it can set in at any time. If your child seems to be struggling with leg discomfort at night, talk to your pediatrician. He or she will be able to evaluate the possibility and recommend appropriate treatment.

Your mattress could help.

No mattress can cure restless leg syndrome, but your bed should be ruled out as a cause of your discomfort. If a worn mattress is creating pressure points, the resulting pain could be mistaken for restless leg syndrome. If you’re unsure, try a mattress topper or pad and see if uncomfortable sensations are relieved. If sleeping on a different surface doesn’t help, your bed isn’t likely to blame. One thing the right mattress can resolve is any discomfort experienced by the spouse of a person with RLS. Since memory foam and organic latex mattresses absorb motion, sleep disturbances can be minimized by these materials.

It’s totally treatable.

If your bed’s not to blame and you do receive a diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome, you have plenty of options. Once identified, the condition is very treatable. Your doctor will first identify the cause of your problem, which can be as simple as an iron deficiency. While several pharmaceutical treatments are available, those wishing to avoid medication can try any combination of massages, hot or cold treatments, exercise, and reductions in caffeine and alcohol intake.

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