Restless Legs Syndrome: twitching legs

Restless Legs Syndrome: twitching legs

Sometimes only opioids help against twitching legs
Ten percent of Germans are affected by the so-called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). The uncontrolled twitching of the legs leads to sleepless nights in many sufferers. What helps? In some cases only opioids. However, this should always be preceded by detailed research into the causes.

Restless Legs Syndrome robs those affected of sleep The Restless Legs Syndrome is particularly uncomfortable at night. Affected people can then no longer sleep because of the uncontrolled twitching of the legs. The uncomfortable symptoms often start on the sofa in the evening when the person concerned comes to rest. For many patients, real relaxation is almost impossible, as the feeling disorders in the legs and the urge to move occur as soon as they rest. "The complaint from which the sufferers suffer is called restless legs syndrome, which means something like restless legs syndrome," explains Lilo Habersack, who is herself affected by the disease, to the news agency "dpa". "There is usually talk of a feeling of restlessness, some feeling it as tingling or twitching, while others talk about pulling, itching or burning," added the chairwoman of the German Restless Legs Association.

As doctors repeatedly emphasize, people who sleep too little increase their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, overweight or obesity or diabetes. Around a third of the patients affected by the RLS have symptoms that are so severe that they need medication to be able to cope with their everyday work and social life.

Improve sleep hygiene
There is still a great need for improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. A survey of nearly 4,200 patients in Canada, the United States and ten European countries two years ago showed that over two thirds of those surveyed stated that they had waited three or more years for a correct diagnosis from the first symptoms. There is no cure for RLS. Treatment often focuses on improving sleep quality. Natural measures to improve sleep hygiene can help. In addition to light sports, relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation are also available. Some people also rely on Chinese therapy for restless legs.

If these measures do not provide relief, those affected should consider drug therapy. Dopamine substitutes are usually prescribed first because they work well and have few side effects. In more severe cases, only opioids sometimes help.

Reasons for RLS not clearly clarified
Basically, RLS can meet people of all ages. The causes of the disease have not yet been clearly clarified. It is suspected that a malfunction of the nerve metabolism plays a role or partly also inheritance. In addition, certain changes in the genes could increase the likelihood of a disease. Possible causes of secondary RLS include iron deficiency, kidney dysfunction or neurological diseases. "There is also a great need for further research and development for effective treatments to help people live a tolerable life, and we have been working on this for many years," said Habersack. (ag)

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Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Restless legs syndrome in kids