Channel 5’s documentary Restless Legs Syndrome: Desperate for Help airs tonight (June 23), but what is it?
Is there a cure and a way to relieve the symptoms?
One in ten of us will suffer from this disease at some point in our lives.
Here is everything you need to know.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
We all get a little nervous after sitting still for too long, but some people feel an irresistible urge to move their legs.
It can seriously affect their daily life.
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Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis Ekbom disease, is a common nervous system disorder.
What are the symptoms
The condition leaves people with an overwhelming urge to move their legs.
It can also cause uncomfortable crawling or creeping in your feet, calves, and thighs.
The feeling is often worse in the evening or at night.
Occasionally the arms are also affected.
It’s also associated with involuntary twitching of the legs and arms known as periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS).
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person’s daily activities.
What causes restless legs syndrome?
Most of the time there is no obvious cause.
This is known as idiopathic or primary restless legs syndrome.
The condition can run in families.
Some neurologists believe the symptoms could have something to do with how the body deals with a chemical called dopamine.
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Dopamine is involved in controlling muscle movement.
It may be responsible for the involuntary leg movements associated with the syndrome.
Sometimes restless legs can be caused by an underlying health condition such as iron deficiency anemia or kidney failure.
There is also a link between restless legs syndrome and pregnancy.
In fact, women are twice as likely to develop restless legs syndrome as men.
And it’s more common in middle age.
Is there a cure?
There is no cure as such, but the condition can be treated.
Mild cases can be alleviated by good sleep habits and avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Exercising regularly can also help.
If your symptoms are more severe, you may need medication to help regulate dopamine and iron levels in your body.
The condition is not life threatening, but severe cases can disrupt sleep and trigger anxiety and depression.
Restless Legs Syndrome: Desperate for help on Channel 5
This C5 documentary meets people who feel the urge to keep moving their feet.
It is a condition that is so severe for some that they want their legs to be chopped off.
Cameras follow the pensioner, who thinks of suicide because of his tingling legs because of a severe lack of sleep.
Viewers also meet a sufferer who is handcuffed to the house due to the embarrassment of her twitching legs.
Restless Legs Syndrome: Desperate for Help will air on Wednesday June 23 at 8 p.m. on Channel 5.
The welfare Restless legs syndrome UK provides information and support for those affected.
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