Restless legs syndrome is a disorder of the nerves which gives out symptoms such as throbbing, creeping and unpleasant sensations in the legs with the uncontrollable urge to move them. While it may occur now and then in normal people, it becomes pathologic when it disrupts daytime function and sleep. In a new study, pregabalin proves effective in eliminating unpleasant symptoms associated with this disorder.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is a condition wherein there is an uncontrollable to move the legs whenever the person is trying to relax or lie down. Symptoms may even be present at night when the person relaxes or is at rest and increases in severity as night goes on. Discomfort is relieved by moving the legs. This discomfort may be abnormal nerve sensations called paresthesias or unpleasant abnormal sensations called dysthesias. These sensations can even be painful and irritating.
Untreated restless legs syndrome can cause daytime fatigue, sleep loss and exhaustion. People affected by this disorder often reveal that this condition affects their work, social life and their daily activities. They cannot sleep very well at night and are unable to concentrate during the daytime. They have impaired memory and they often cannot accomplish their daily tasks very well. This can create difficulties for the person to travel and can even cause depression. Restless legs syndrome can both affect adults and children and can even be misdiagnosed by some doctors.
Restless legs syndrome needs to be treated as soon as possible because if left untreated, this can give rise to symptoms such as insomnia, nervousness, muscle cramping, stress, arthritis and early aging. This condition both affects men and women though women are commonly affected. It can affect all ages yet more serious illness can start at middle age or older. Restless legs syndrome is now classified as a movement disorder because this illness forces the legs to move to gain symptom relief.
Common signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome include uncomfortable sensation in the legs especially when sitting or lying down, an irresistible urge to move the limbs, constant pacing in the floor and tossing and turning in bed. Symptoms get worse at night while in the daytime, the sufferer may be symptom-free. Some people with restless legs syndrome may even sleep during the daytime. Movement of the legs may also be triggered by long car trips, watching a movie, long distance flight, relaxation activities and cast immobilization. The symptoms may go worse when there is lack of sleep and may even vary from person to person. In some people, sleep is disrupted and there may be interference in daily activities. Symptoms may occur every day while in mild cases, symptoms may only occur once or twice a week but may cause a delay in sleep onset at night and impaired daytime functioning. There may even be remissions or exacerbations.
There are many causes of restless legs syndrome including genes, low levels of iron, dysfunction of the basal ganglia, Parkinson's disease, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, certain medications, pregnancy, alcohol and sleep deprivation.
Restless Legs Syndrome and Pregabalin
A recent study shows that pregabalin can relieve symptoms and slow down the progression of restless legs syndrome when compared with the current standard medication, which is pramipexole. In this study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore studied 720 patients with moderate to severe symptoms of restless legs syndrome for the effects of pregabalin versus pramipexole. After 12 weeks, patients on pregabalin showed greater symptom improvement compared with placebo. The findings were published in the February 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
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