It happens that a person (usually a woman) is overcome by a strange affliction. As soon as he goes to bed, his legs “start dancing” - an obsessive desire to move his lower limbs arises. This neurological disorder has been given a “talking” name - restless legs syndrome. The reasons are not established. How successful will the treatment be?
Although many did not even have to hear about this disease, no one is immune from it. According to medical statistics, Ekbom's syndrome (as this disease is scientifically called) is found in 25% of the population. This figure could be even higher, but some “runners involuntarily” do not even notice their convulsive movements and believe that this is normal.
The first scientist who managed to describe this pathological condition was a doctor from England, Thomas Willis. This happened a long time ago - as early as 1672. However, the academic world did not attach much importance to such a disease. Only three centuries later, Finnish medic Karl Ekbom began studying the disease. He accurately described the symptoms and "gave" the name to him.
How the disease manifests - the main symptoms
"Running while sleeping" - this is how you can briefly describe the main symptom of this disease. Since there are no other signs of the disease, a natural question arises: restless legs syndrome, what is it - motor or nervous breakdown?
Doctors have determined that the cause is still covered "in the head", and identified this disease as a chronic neurological compulsive disorder.
Patients note that they make chaotic movements with their feet from 1 to 2 (or more) once a week. At the same time there is a pronounced daily rhythm. The chaotic movements of the lower limbs appear in the late afternoon and intensify at night. The highest intensity of the movements of the legs was recorded in patients in the interval from 12 am to 4 am.
It is clear that such a symptom completely deprives a person of sleep. The patient cannot sleep, he walks, shakes his limbs, rubs his legs to relieve the itching. While the person moves, the discomfort subsides, but it is necessary to lie down - and the “dance” begins again.
At first, the patient is trying to resist the desire to move his legs, but this does not give a positive result, but only causes irritation and ends with stress. Doing the movement of the legs have to again and again.
Lack of sleep (and a person sleeps on the strength of a couple of hours) leads to the appearance of new symptoms. These include:
- general ill health;
- difficulty concentrating;
- asthenic syndrome;
What provokes the night marathon?
Medicine can not yet give an exact answer to the question about the causes of restless legs syndrome. Presumably, the following factors play a negative role in the development of such a disorder:
- overuse of caffeine-containing beverages;
- treatment with certain medications (lithium and nifedipine);
- disorders of the thyroid gland;
- too high physical activity;
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- stomach surgery.
Ekbom's syndrome is often detected in patients with diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases, with renal and hepatic dysfunction. A hereditary factor is not excluded.
It is also unclear why women are 1.5 times more likely than men to have restless legs. The reasons for this selective behavior of the disease have not yet been established. Some women experience all her "charms" during pregnancy.
The risk category includes people of middle and old age. But there are cases when the disease develops in young patients - from 20 to 30 years. Children suffer from this disease.
It is hoped that advances in medical technology will soon allow to thoroughly investigate the syndrome of restless legs, its causes, and treatment will become more successful.
Why is it difficult for a doctor to make a diagnosis of Ekbom syndrome?
No medical devices can detect the presence of restless legs syndrome in humans. The reason for such a medical report are only patient complaints. The doctor can not personally see the symptoms of the disease when examined by the patient.
In order for the doctor to correctly identify the disease, the patient must very accurately describe his condition, indicate how often he has discomfort movements - his feet and calves are twitching, he has a burning sensation in his legs, and “goosebumps” run over him.
Some confidence in the correctness of the diagnosis can give such an examination as a blood test. It may show a lack of iron, which is characteristic of restless legs. They also perform myography and do EEG.
The difficulty in identifying the disease lies in the fact that some neuropsychiatric disorders have similar symptoms (for example, obsessive movements).
Of course, in some clinics there is equipment for conducting polysomnography, which helps to more accurately determine the presence of Ekbom's disease. The study is conducted in the following way: sensors are attached to the human body, recording the work of the nervous system and involuntary movements of the legs during sleep. But to make such a diagnosis can not be in every clinic.
What treatment will help a person with restless legs syndrome?
When a person is tormented by endless nightly “races,” he is in urgent need of treatment. If the syndrome has arisen as a result of another disease, then therapy is aimed at treating this ailment.
So, if the discomfort in the extremities is caused by iron deficiency, then iron-containing drugs are prescribed to the patient. These may be tablets or injectable solutions.
If the disease is mild, relapses are rare, then tranquilizers and sedatives are prescribed. The disadvantage of these drugs is that they can be addictive.
In severe illness, potent drugs are needed that have a depressant effect on the production of dopamine. They are quite effective, but cause a lot of adverse reactions.
In very rare cases when other methods do not help to eliminate intense pain, opioids are used. Such treatment of restless legs syndrome at home can not be carried out, since these funds can cause addiction.
Alternative methods of dealing with night "dances"
The disease is not only treated with pills: therapy is often supplemented with such procedures:
- magnetic therapy. Exposure to magnetic fields relieves pain, inflammation and swelling;
- mud applications. Such procedures significantly improve blood circulation in the limbs and normalize metabolism;
- reflexology. It consists in the fact that thin needles are injected into the patient under the skin (at certain points);
- lympopress. The procedure, which creates pressure on the lymphatic system, which should normalize the metabolic processes and improve the tone of the legs;
- darsonvalization. The procedure is based on the effect of high-frequency fast-damping current on the lower leg region.
It is not known which technique is most effective, but such treatments help to achieve the best results.
Help yourself: home remedies for restless legs syndrome
To alleviate the unpleasant manifestations of the disease and reduce their frequency, doctors advise at home to follow certain rules:
- observe the regime of the day, go to bed on time;
- well helps special gymnastics, which includes stretching the legs, walking, squats, rolls on the feet;
- Doctors advise you to do a light foot massage before going to bed;
- It is not recommended to use tea, coffee, alcohol before bedtime;
- should stop smoking completely;
- in the evening it is useful to make contrast foot baths;
- at home you can take herbal soothing teas from valerian, hops, motherwort, oregano, peony, fireweed.
Preventive measures that can reduce the likelihood of a painful illness, are a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, the correct treatment of other diseases and the rejection of harmful addictions.
Despite the fact that restless legs syndrome and its causes are not fully understood, in most cases the treatment gives a good result. If the first signs of such a disease have appeared, you should not be left alone with her. If you go to a doctor in time, you can completely return the normal quality of life.