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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

November 3, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis Restless Leg SyndromeOver the years I have accepted the fact that many sub diseases and disorders come along with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is one of those side dishes that seem to come equipped with MS as a main dish. RLS is a disorder of the central nervous system that produces uncomfortable sensations in the legs, (sometimes in the arms) that is most evident in the evening or during the night. For me it is my legs but mainly prevalent in my feet themselves.

I am also blessed with night cramping and the two are often confused as being the same however Restless leg syndrome should not be confused with night cramps. When you experience both they are easy to tell apart but for those not blessed with this discomfort it all can seem as one in the same.

Approximately one in every ten adults has some form of RLS. That means that many of my fellow suffers out there have RLS but do not have MS. The two are not necessarily mutual. I have heard many of RLS suffers find RLS to be a manageable condition, but for a lucky few of us it is beyond the meditation cure state.

It is always fun explaining to a partner why you are continuously kicking them as they sleep. It was always one of the more interesting conversations when someone would sleep over during my single days. I don’t know about others out there but I do know I can get pretty violent. It sounds funny but it definitely isn’t fun. RLS causes your legs to move spontaneously often while you are asleep and can end up causing kicking, tossing, and turning.

Research has told me that conditions and circumstances such as stress, iron deficiency, kidney disease and pregnancy may bring about the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. For people that experience RLS due to these conditions RLS is curable, or at least controllable.

Doctors love to push the adage that caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can make the symptoms worse. Although anyone who knows me will understand that if you take away my coffee, cigs, and cocktails RLS will be the last thing you need to worry about!

Just like MS no one seems to know what causes RLS. One theory is that it is hereditary and yet another is that there is a lot of motor learning that gets “replayed” while asleep. This might suggest why RLS is more prone in the legs than arms. In the course of the day most people do more work with their legs than their arms so at night this voluntary muscle work is “replayed”.

So do you have Restless Leg Syndrome? According to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation you do if any of scenarios below fit you:

    * Your RLS symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.

    * Your RLS symptoms get better when you move your legs. The relief can be complete or only partial but generally starts very soon after starting an activity. Relief persists as long as the motor activity continues.

    * Your RLS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Activities that bother you at night do not bother you during the day.

People who have RLS describe the sensations as pulling, drawing, tingling, pins and needles, prickly and many times painful sensation in their legs. Being that my RLS is escorted to my health chart by MS it has been years since I have experienced full feeling in any part of my body. This means I would more describe my RLS “pains” as a severe numbing and then followed with a feeling of extreme weight being placed atop my feet. Next I get an urge to move my extremities until I get a bit of the pressure released. It is obvious that for me RLS will be a lifelong condition.

Traditional treatment of RLS consists of massaging the legs and applying cold compresses. Sometimes doctors try medications with their patients. Some of the Parkinson’s medications (also used in the treatment of MS) have proven to be helpful. I however choose to boycott most all traditional pharmasudicals so I am always looking for alternative means of treatment for my ills.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, calming spasms that either cause or aggravate restless leg syndrome. There is a lot of magnesium found in tap water but with everything else thrown in there you couldn’t pay me enough to drink that poison.

My mother told me a few days ago about a home remedy of placing bar of Dove soap at the foot of the bed tucked between the mattress and sheet. She swears by Dove but many things I have now read online suggests not using Dove or any other perfumed soap. All I had in the house was a small bar of Dove I got from the sample jar at the dermatologist but I must say it has been a mini miracle!

The biggest problem with Restless Leg Syndrome is the inability to get a good nights sleep. I think that might be why as hard as I try I always seem to sleep more during the day and stay up all night. I wonder if vampires suffer from RLS?

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