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Restless Legs - Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment


The phenomenon of restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder whose causes are still unknown. It occurs during sleep, rest, and moments of inactivity and is highly favored by a sitting or lying position. Symptoms tend to be worse in the evening and night, and also worsen with age. Please note that some drugs may be responsible for symptoms related to this disease.


Symptoms include unpleasant tingling, muscle contractions, or small electric shocks are felt periodically in the lower limbs. They are accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. In fact, the symptoms tend to disappear quickly when the patient changes position or starts walking, the latter often being necessary to allow patients to fall back to sleep. During the night, sudden and uncontrolled shaking of legs may also disturb sleep or may have an impact on the overall quality of sleep.


To temporarily relieve these symptoms, a patient should walk, stretch, perform leg movements, and occasionally massage the leg muscles. For a more in-depth treatment, there are various medications that can be prescribed if the restlessness proves to significantly interfere with sleep and the quality of everyday life: anticonvulsants, sedatives, anxiolytics, or analgesics in case of severe pain.


The causes of restless leg syndrome are still poorly identified; prevention requires above all a change in lifestyle habits, which may potentially alleviate the symptoms. The recommendation that is currently given is to have a healthy and varied diet; to reduce the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; to reduce potential stress factors; and to engage in regular physical activity.

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