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Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological disorder that occurs in about 12 million (or 5 to 15% of the population) people in the US. Symptoms include creepy-crawly feelings or sensation in legs (usually between knees and ankles) that causes them to continually move their legs to alleviate the feeling. Others don't necessarily have the sensations but have an irresistible urge to move their legs. Symptoms are often worse during inactive periods or at night resulting in poor sleep. The condition is more common in women during the third trimester of pregnancy and in people with chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The condition is often associated with sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy and often causes periodic limb movement disorder where patients experience involuntary leg twitching during sleep. There is no simple test to diagnose the condition and lack of awareness of the condition makes it difficult for patients to describe their symptoms. Symptoms may be mild or sever and the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed as arthritis, depression, anxiety or lower-back trouble. The cause of the condition is unknown but a study in 2002 by German researchers suggests that a single gene may be the cause in sufferers under 30 and gene combinations and environmental factors may be the cause in older sufferers. A more recent study indicates that the cause may be due to poor iron processing by some brain cells which causes these cells to mix up central nervous system messages to the limbs. Different therapies work for different people. Some have found success with iron supplementation; others make lifestyle changes or avoid triggers such as caffeine or red wine. Medication treatment may include drugs used for Parkinson's disease (Requip, Mirapex, Sinemet) and the epilepsy anticonvulsant drug Neurontin. Folate and magnesium supplementation, regular, moderate exercise, hot baths, massage, heating pads or ice packs may also help.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by The Courier-Journal
About: Restless Leg Syndrome still difficult to diagnose
Date: 17 December 2004
Source: The Courier-Journal
Author: Darla Carter
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