If you have an uncomfortable sensation, tingling, pulling or cramping in your legs when you are at rest, you may have the Restless Leg Syndrome. A disease suffered in our country two million people and that it is associated with sleep problems (insomnia) and with the disease of periodic movements of the legs during sleep.
And it is that this neurological disorder, also known as Willis-Ekbom syndromeis characterized by the urge to move legs and appears or worsens in the evening, so it usually difficulty initiating or staying asleep impairing rest considerably. In fact, 25 percent of patients who come to the Neurology consultation or to a Sleep Unit for chronic insomnia problems are diagnosed with restless legs syndrome.
“But restless legs syndrome is much more than a sleep disorder: when associated with chronic sleep deprivation, which leads to problems with fatigueperformance and difficulty performing daily activities, cognitive alterations and in social and family relationships, this disorder causes a greater predisposition to develop anxiety-depressive disorders, arterial hypertension, as well as other cardiovascular-type disorders“, said the coordinator of the Study Group of Sleep and Wake Disorders of the Spanish Society of Neurology, Ana Fernández Arcos.
In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms initially manifest discreetly and sporadically, with minor discomfort. This means that more than 10 years can elapse between the onset of symptoms and their diagnosis. Thus, when periods of worsening occur, in which the problem significantly interferes with the quality of life of those who suffer from it, it is generally when the doctor is usually consulted.
Experts insist on the need to improve their diagnosis and social awareness about this disorder since there are also effective treatments for many of these patients. And it is that, in some cases, the syndrome of restless legs can be associated with iron deficiency either chronic renal insufficiency, may appear or worsen during pregnancy, may be caused by a peripheral nerve injury and it also manifests itself with some frequency in people with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s wave multiple sclerosis. In these cases, the treatment of restless legs syndrome will be directed at the cause that produces it.
However, in most patients there is no clear cause: it is what is called idiopathic or primary restless legs syndrome. However, there seems to be some genetic predispositionsince at least a third of patients have a family history.
The latest research seems to point to a relationship with dopamine-related circuits. For this reason, the treatment of first choice for restless legs syndrome is dopaminergic agonist drugs that allow many patients, and in a few days, achieve improved sleep and quality of life.
The benefits of healthy living
Neurologists remember that wearing a healthy lifestyle will be beneficial for all patients with this disorder: about good sleep habits (regular sleep schedule, adequate sleep duration, and in a quiet and comfortable sleep environment), exercise regularly (such as practicing yoga), avoid coffee and alcohol and, at the time symptoms occur, walking, cycling, performing massages and even compression on the affected area, can be non-pharmacological strategies that help improve symptoms.
From the SEN it is recalled that, although restless legs syndrome is more frequent than debuts from the fourth decade of life, it can start at any age. In fact, 25 percent of patients begin to experience symptoms of the disease in childhood or adolescence, and in severe cases, symptoms often begin before the age of 20. In the case of children, neurologists emphasize correctly assessing the presence of discomfort that can initially be attributed to growing pains or to hyperactivity, since the greatest diagnostic delays of this disorder usually occur in the pediatric age.