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July 7, 2004

Not Just A Jerk

Do you ever have an overwhelming need to kick move your legs? Do these symptoms occur in the evening as you're winding down after a long day or when you're trying to fall asleep? Your spouse may think you're a jerk with all that thrashing about, but it's not your fault. You may have restless leg syndrome.

As the name implies, it is a disorder where the patient feels an urge to move their legs around, and most often occurs at rest. In fact, most patients describe it being worse as they lay down to go to sleep, and it can interfere with them being able to fall asleep.

We do not know what causes RLS, but in some cases there appears to be a familial component (it runs in families). Stress and fatigue can worsen symptoms (which can create a vicious cycle, since the sleep problems tend to increase fatigue). Some cases of RLS have been attributed to decreases in body iron, B12, folate or magnesium. Other diseases, such as kidney failure, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy from any cause, as well as many others diseases, may be associated with RLS.

I sometimes suffer from a mild case of this in the evening, especially when my back is tired from standing all day. In my case, I suspect it may be due to muscle tension around nerves of the lower spine. I believe massage can help relieve symptoms, and may be preventive. In advanced RLS degenerative discs may contribute to the condition, in which case massage could be employed for maintenance.

Posted by linda at July 7, 2004 7:21 AM

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