Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome

  Autor NN Team Data: 09.06.2009

Restless Legs Syndrome
Rare and very little known, the restless legs syndrome produces uncomfortable body sensations, especially at legs, when the patient is lying down or sitting on a chair. The unpleasant sensation disappears when he stands up and moves, then reoccurs when he wants to rest again. 

The RLS affects both girls and boys, and may occur at any age (even at adults), and get worse with time. It might seem a minor problem, but the unpleasant sensation in the limbs, affects the sleep and makes the journeys extremely difficult. 
It's hard to describe the sensations of a patient. The adults described the symptoms as weird uncomfortable sensations in the legs, thighs, arms, forearms. They might be pains, burns, itching, numbness and cramps. No matter what, the unpleasant sensation occurs in the inactive moments, when the child is lying down or sitting on a chair, and disappears or becomes less disturbing when the child stands up. Each individual has the own way to ease the uncomfort: they stretch the limbs, shake them, walk through the room, and do easy exercises. 
The need to move the limbs becomes necessary and the patient cannot remain restless. The symptoms are mild during the day and get worse in the evening or during the night. Thus, the child cannot fall asleep or wakes up during the night and lack of sleep leads to problems during the day: concentration difficulties, drowsiness. 

Besides insomnia and its effects, the RLS doesn't cause other complications. However, the disease may be embarrassing for the child as he cannot help moving the limbs at school, at kindergarten, at theatre, etc. The intensity of symptoms differs. Sometimes they might disappear completely for a while, and then reoccur just like this. 
Most cases, there isn't an exact cause of the syndrome. It might be a chemical imbalance regarding the brain. Stress, fatigue, and worsen the symptoms, as the pregnancy and other states lead to hormonal changes. In some cases, a few ones, the syndrome cause might be a disease such as iron deficiency (but not anemia), renal failure or peripheral neuropathy. The RLS is hard to be diagnosed, especially in children, and most patients don't ever see a doctor. The weird sensations that an adult cannot describe, might be confused with growth pains, leg cramps, muscle cramps, stress, and insomnia. There is no test to determine a precise diagnosis. The diagnosis is based on the sensations described by the patients. 

There are no special treatments for this syndrome. If this is an effect of another disease (anemia), the weird sensations in the legs disappear or are reduced if we treat the disease. Besides this, the lifestyle could be changed. 

Fatigue and stress which might worsen the symptoms must be avoided

You can try warm baths, massages, cold or warm compresses. Nobody knows which of these will be successful until they are tried. Some patients say that they feel better with ice compresses, others prefer the hot ones. The stimulating substances might be avoided. We're talking about any form of caffeine especially for children: chocolate, coke, tea. 

The easy and moderate exercises are recommended. The intense exercises are harmful, especially when they are done in the evening. The child's sleep must be supervised. If he has an irregular sleep schedule, it's possible for the fatigue to accentuate the symptoms. In case these methods are not successful, the doctor might prescribe a treatment. However, regarding the children, it's good to try 
all the possible methods to ease the disease before using the pills, which are opioids or sleeping pills most of the times. 

Read the English version of this article: Restless Legs Syndrome