Restless legs syndrome: what is it and how to deal with it

Have you ever noticed strange unpleasant sensations in your legs? It’s difficult to call it pain, rather like this: it stings here, then it pulls there, then it feels like goosebumps are running. Or the legs begin to twitch as if by themselves. Moreover, these feelings arise when you seem to be completely relaxed — for example, you are already falling asleep in bed in the evening.

If yes, then most likely you have the so-called «restless legs syndrome». What it is, and how to defeat it, our expert tells.

What is Restless Legs syndrome?
— The clinical picture of SBN is characterized by the appearance in the lower extremities of unpleasant sensations of an itchy, stabbing, pressing, numbing, tingling or scratching nature that occur in a sitting or lying position.

Relief is brought by any movements in the limbs — rubbing, flexion-extension, shifting from foot to foot, constant forced walking. Just lie down, unpleasant sensations resume again.

The symptoms of SBN have a clear daily rhythm — they intensify in the evening and reach their peak from about 00:00 to 4:00 in the morning. This is accompanied by disturbances of night sleep. In severe cases, discomfort in the extremities does not depend on the time of day and is permanent.

Restless legs syndrome can occur at any age, but middle-aged and elderly people are more likely to suffer from it.

Causes of Restless Legs syndrome
This syndrome can be primary, without any other disorder, within the framework of a genetic predisposition. Or secondary — caused by other diseases or physiological conditions.

Deficiencies of iron, B vitamins, magnesium

It occurs in pregnant women

Amyloidosis, uremia, cryoglobulinemia

Rheumatoid arthritis

Diabetes mellitus

Lung diseases — COPD

Vascular diseases of the lower extremities


Violation of the thyroid gland

Spinal injuries

Polyneuropathies, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, essential tremor and other neurological diseases

Psychosomatic disorders.

SBN is observed in healthy individuals under the influence of stress, high physical and emotional loads.

SBN must be distinguished from restlessness as a result of akathisia, a side effect of taking neuroleptics and other psychotropic drugs, as well as the use of stimulants.

How to deal with this condition
First of all, it is necessary to contact a neurologist, undergo a full examination, including consulting with a psychiatrist to understand the primary cause of SBN and confirm or exclude the underlying disease.

Then comes the treatment and correction of the primary disease. For example, if SBN has arisen on the background of diabetes mellitus, it is necessary to treat diabetes under the supervision of an endocrinologist.

If the cause of SBN is a psychosomatic disorder, then the treatment of emotional disorders by a psychiatrist will significantly improve the condition.

Symptomatic therapy includes non-medicinal methods that can improve and alleviate your condition. It is recommended to give yourself moderate physical activity during the day, take evening walks before going to bed, take a shower or a warm bath in the evening, do a foot massage and adhere to the correct daily routine. It is also worth giving up coffee, tea, alcohol, and other caffeinated and stimulating products.

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