Restless Leg Syndrome Can Significantly Impact Quality of Life

Those who don’t seek medical help fear they won’t be taken seriously

DAYTON, Ohio (February 6, 2015) – Imagine sitting down and getting ready to relax after a hard day’s work only to be overwhelmed by a sensation to move your legs. The part of your body that had been beckoning for rest is the very thing causing you not to get it.

This is a familiar scenario for about 10 percent of Americans today. The aching, throbbing, pulling or unusual sensation in their legs is what is known as restless leg syndrome, or RLS. It’s a condition that most commonly flares up at night just as a person is relaxing or trying to fall asleep. The condition is considered a sleep disorder because of the impact it can have on one’s quality of sleep, said James Layne Moore, MD, a neurologist with the Clinical Neuroscience Institute, a Premier Health Specialists practice.

“Restless leg syndrome is very disruptive to a person’s sleep because just at the time they are ready to sit down and relax they can’t because they have to move their legs,” said Dr. Moore. “It’s a condition that can drive a person crazy and, in some cases, make a person feel as if they are crazy.”

Although the symptoms of RLS are very real, many individuals fear that what they are battling is all in their head, Dr. Moore said. This fear can often cause a person to not seek medical attention because they think they won’t be taken seriously or that their issue is not treatable, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeOff Site Icon (NINDS). RLS, if not assessed properly, can be inaccurately attributed to nervousness, insomnia, stress, arthritis, muscle cramps or aging, the institute said.

RLS should be taken seriously because, if left untreated, it can significantly affect a person’s quality of sleep; leaving them exhausted during the day. People who suffer from RLS report that their job, personal relations and daily activities are strongly affected as a result of their sleep deprivation, the NINDS said. RLS can also make traveling difficult since the symptoms are known to occur when one sits in a car or airplane for an extended period of time.

Thompson HSSeveral medical conditions appear to be related to RLS although researchers have yet to determine if they actually cause the condition, said Dori Thompson, MD, primary care physician at Springboro Family Medicine

“Obesity, smoking, pregnancy and certain medications can place people at a greater risk for experiencing restless leg syndrome,” said Dr. Thompson, who practices within Premier HealthNet. “Environmental factors such as alcohol use and sleep deprivation have been known to contribute to it. I personally have experienced it and it seems to be when I am overly tired and I am working late hours.”

RLS is known to be a hereditary condition. More than 70 percent of children who have RLS have a parent who has the condition as well, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Dr. Thompson said most patients are not able to determine the cause of their RLS, but the good news is that it is treatable. The type of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms but may include the use of medications or even supplements. RLS patients often exhibit low iron levels, and will see relief in symptoms when that is supplemented, Dr. Moore said.

The NSF recommends the following steps to help cope with RLS:

Share your symptoms – Talk to friends and family about the condition so that they know what to expect and how to best support you. Sharing your condition may also prove that you are not alone. “It is not that uncommon,” Dr. Moore said. “You and I most likely know people who have it.”

Start to stretch – Consider practicing yoga or other exercises that help stretch your muscles on a regular basis, preferably later in the day.

Sync your sleep – Try sleeping when symptoms are less pronounced. Studies have shown that RLS symptoms lessen during early morning hours.

Plan when traveling – Plan to travel when symptoms are least severe and allow times for breaks to be able to move outside the car. Choose an aisle seat when flying so that you are able to get up and move around if necessary.

Seek medical help – See your primary care physician or a specialist to determine if you have RLS. Be willing to share all your symptoms without fear of embarrassment.  The quicker you seek help, the sooner you can enjoy relief.

For more information on the restless leg syndrome or to find a Premier Health physician near you, visit

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