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Dec 13, 2012

Healthy Living strolls with a restless leg syndrome

Some medical conditions are very tricky to diagnose especially when the symptoms are a bit difficult to explain. That is the case with this week’s topic on Healthy Living. Restless leg disorder is a neurological disorder that does exactly as the name suggests. Healthy Living gets the stats from one medical professional.


Dr. Francis Smith:  Orthopedic Surgeon

“Restless leg syndrome or Willis-Ekbom disease is a strange condition affecting the nervous system causing constant sensations n in the lower limbs provoking an irresistible urge and a desperate need to move.”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

RLS to a regular person may sound like no big deal; but to a person with the condition the urge to move ones leg, especially when in a resting position, is powerful it often become uncontrollable. RLS affects more women than men and is more common in middle age persons, but the symptoms can develop at any age, including childhood.


Francis Smith

Dr. Francis Smith

“Most times I believe we may have misdiagnosed children we call it growing pains and in adults we realize in retrospect it may have been restless leg syndrome. People describe these things mostly as aches, twitching, itching, itching at the bottom of the foot that they cannot scratch, aches, bone aches, pins and needles, electric shock and that sort of thing.”


The symptoms may be severe for some and mild for others. Pregnant women are vulnerable to developing RLS or may experience worse symptoms. It is also more common people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disease and other conditions. But it can strike people without those problems too.


Dr. Francis Smith

“This condition is associated to deficiency disorder, like iron deficiency folic, magnesium that sort of thing  we see it mostly in patients as well with patients who suffer kidney failure or kidney disease especially those on dialysis and some other disorders. The thinking is that restless leg syndrome is associated to a chemical in the brain called dopamine. And dopamine is a substance that regulates muscle movement so if there is any changes in dopamine. It provokes involuntary muscle twitching.  That’s what we think is the cause for restless leg syndrome.”


The greatest challenge for persons with RLS is getting a good night sleep. With the constant uncomfortable sensation sin the foot, leg or thigh and continued need to move as the only means of relief, falling or staying asleep is very difficult.


Dr. Francis Smith

“The most constant thing is that people wake up at nighttime and they have this desperate need to walk around and shake their legs and so they get that temporary relief and so it coming back. symptoms vary from severe and people find the need to take some pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol it can be that bad but it can also be mild like an unpleasant: like people describe things crawling under their skin or on top of their skin. Symptoms would have to be persistent mostly at nighttime. Usually during period of relaxation or no movement, sitting own watching TV and this sensation come son and then you feel the urge you must get up you must shake the foot and you do get relief when you do so and during the day time it is negligible.”


Dr. Smith advises that persons with these symptoms visit the doctor for a checkup. First, it must be ruled out that the symptoms are not a result of any other serious illness.  Treatment for mild or moderate RLS would be to ease the symptoms and some lifestyle change would be required. More severe cases can be treated with prescription medication.

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