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Constant restlessness of the legs: Sleepless nights due to twitching legs
Those who suffer from the so-called ‘Restless Legs Syndrome’ can hardly find sleep and rest. The Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine now wants to work for better therapy options. Treatment can significantly alleviate the symptoms.
Every tenth affected
However, the feeling of relaxation may not occur in about every tenth person. As soon as they rest, they suffer from leg disorders, pain, feelings of restlessness and feel an unnatural urge to move. These symptoms speak for the Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), from which sufferers suffer especially at night. The symptoms can be briefly dispelled by exercise - some sufferers therefore run several kilometers every night because otherwise they will not be able to endure the pain and discomfort. This not only leads to a high level of suffering, but can also be dangerous. Because the restless legs often cause severe sleep disorders, which damage health in the long term.
The Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) now wants to work for better treatment options. "Before starting specific drug therapy, symptomatic causes must be excluded and treated if necessary," explains Professor Svenja Happe, neurological chief physician at the Maria Frieden Telgte Clinic. "Thus, iron administration is advisable when blood levels are low, even if no iron deficiency anemia can be found." In the course of the therapy, certain sleep rules and abstinence from coffee and alcohol are recommended to patients, as these drinks have a stimulating effect. In certain cases, medications such as neuroleptics and antidepressants are also prescribed.
Especially older and pregnant women affected
Older people in particular, but sometimes pregnant women, are among those affected. Restless legs syndrome is also often associated with polyneuropathy, a disease of the long nerves. According to the current state of research, from a conventional medical point of view, the restless legs syndrome arises from a disruption in the transmission of certain messenger substances in the brain and spinal cord. This can be genetic or caused by factors such as iron deficiency, kidney dysfunction or medication. If restless legs are triggered by medication, for example, the disease disappears when the factor is switched off. All other forms, conventional medicine can only treat symptomatically.
"If the quality of life, particularly due to the often accompanying sleep disorder, is significantly limited, drug therapy should be started properly," said the expert. A complete cure has not yet been possible, but the therapy can ensure that the symptoms are significantly alleviated. The patients can then lead an almost normal life again. (sb)