Restless Leg Syndrome

Older man suffering from restless leg syndrome

This is a syndrome that makes it difficult for a person to sit or lie still in bed, and is often alleviated by moving or walking about, this is obviously very inconvenient when trying to unwind or get to sleep. A large percentage of those with Restless Leg Syndrome are also affected by Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) when the foot/feet twitch whilst in the slow wave stage of sleep.

Even though the cause isn’t always found, blood tests on people who are affected often show an Iron Deficiency Anaemia. Anaemia is known to cause abnormalities in the dopamine receptors in the brain which can cause a strange crawling sensation in the legs. Adequate iron is essential to prevent this from occurring.

Initial investigations should include blood tests for Full Blood Count, B12, Folate and Ferritin to rule out or diagnose anaemia. Once diagnosed in most cases Anaemia is easily treated. Iron deficient women, especially pregnant women often complain of Restless Leg Syndrome. This improves when iron levels are restored to normal. Recently a medication has become available that works by acting on the dopamine receptors of the brain to alleviate the limb movement and twitching, prior to, and during sleep.

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