What is restless legs syndrome?
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) literally means restless leg syndrome. It is a neurological disorder in which someone constantly has the uncontrollable feeling of having to move their legs. It is common, especially in middle-aged and older people.
What are the symptoms?
RLS is a condition where people suffer from restless, unpleasant, nasty-feeling legs. And sometimes the poor. One feels a constant urge to move legs or arms. The complaints in the evening and night are often worse than during the day and mainly occur during rest.
While moving the legs or arms, the symptoms seem to subside, but as soon as you lie still, the uncomfortable, restless feeling returns.
Some patients with RLS also suffer from short shocking movements of arms or legs, this is called Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PMLD). The shocks are often not noticed by the patient himself, but by the partner.
RLS is a condition whose symptoms can occur more frequently with age.
What are the consequences of RLS?
The restless legs and the shaking of arms and legs make it difficult to fall asleep. And once one sleeps, it can disturb sleep. Severe sleep deprivation probably entails a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. RLS can also lead to problems during the day because people cannot sit still – for example, during a visit to the cinema or theater or on the plane. In this way, RLS can have a negative impact on overall well-being and even lead to depressive symptoms and social isolation.
What is the cause of RLS?
The cause cannot always be determined and is unclear in a large proportion of patients. Heredity plays a role in about half of the patients. A disruption in iron metabolism or dopamine metabolism also appears to play a role.
RLS can be more rapidly affected by, for example, pregnancy, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea, iron deficiency, renal dysfunction, thyroid problems and the use of certain medicines.
How is the diagnosis made?
Neurologists who specialize in RLS and PMLD work in the Ruysdael Slaapkliniek. The diagnosis is made on the basis of the typical complaints of the patient. It is important to determine whether or not the RLS is the result of another condition or medication use. That is why additional tests sometimes have to be carried out, for example a blood test or a sleep test.
Can RLS be corrected?
If there is a clear cause, RLS can be treated well. For example, by adjusting medication use and / or advice in the area of eating, exercising and sleeping.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the neurologist can also prescribe medication to combat RLS complaints.