Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a very common syndrome that affects 1 out of 10 Americans. Despite this, the disorder is often disregarded for a variety of reasons and often goes undiagnosed and even unrecognized in many people.
Restless leg syndrome — or RLS — is characterized by uncomfortable sensations within the legs, causing an irresistible urge to move them. Usually, the symptoms worsen in the evenings, at night, or during periods of inactivity. Many of those who suffer from restless leg syndrome experience disturbances in their sleep or inability to fall asleep, therefore, the condition is considered a sleep disorder.
Despite the myths you may have heard about restless leg syndrome, there is sufficient evidence to classify it as a serious sleep disorder that can lead to an increased mortality rate, depression, reduced quality of life, chronic tiredness, and an ability to interact well due to lack of sleep. Here are some common restless leg syndrome myths that you can kick to the curb.
Restless Leg Syndrome Myth #1: RLS Isn’t A Real Sleep Disorder:
Having to constantly move or jerk your legs may be seriously uncomfortable and counterproductive in falling asleep, but it’s not what most people think of when they hear the term “sleep disorder”. Many patients with RLS believe they are just anxious, hyperactive, or not sufficiently tired. This is likely due to the lack of (and at times negative) attention the disorder garners.
Restless Leg Syndrome Myth #2: RLS Is Trivial:
Many consider restless leg syndrome to be an insignificant condition that is more an inconvenience than anything else. Others regard the compelled movement in the legs as “natural” and therefore not necessarily a medical condition. Despite these beliefs, insomnia caused by restless leg syndrome can have real and intense effects on patients down the line.
Restless Leg Syndrome Myth #3: RLS Is In Your Head
Unfortunately for patients with restless leg syndrome, many have been told their symptoms are in their head rather than the result of an actual medical ailment. This potentially stems from the inability of patients to properly describe the sensations they feel in a meaningful way that would spark medical diagnosis from a sleep specialist. Patients may also delay obtaining a diagnosis because they aren’t sure they’d be believed.
Restless Leg Syndrome Myth #4: There Is No Treatment For RLS
Another misconception about restless leg syndrome is that there is no good sleep disorder treatment aimed at relieving or treating the symptoms. This isn’t true. There are both homeopathic and prescription treatments for people with restless leg syndrome. Additionally, there are life changes you can make today to improve your sleep naturally.
If you or someone you know is having trouble sleeping or falling asleep due to indescribable sensations within the legs that cause an uncontrollable need to move them, make an appointment at Pulmonary Associates of Brandon and speak with a specialist who can help.