What is RLS and How it is connected with Fibromyalgia

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If you experience pain or discomfort in your legs that makes you feel like moving around, especially at night, you may have a condition called restless leg syndrome. For an estimated six million people in the U.S., this is a familiar bedtime routine.

After a long, busy day of work, fun, and family, they finally fall into bed at night and turn out the light. Hoping to fall to sleep, instead, quick movements of the legs (along with other symptoms) keep them up for hours. When they do manage to fall asleep in short intervals, restless legs wake them up regularly. Every morning they rise out of bed, barely having slept. Restless legs syndrome is a chronic, disruptive problem.

Restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia

Sleep issues are, unfortunately, a common occurrence with fibromyalgia. One of these distressing disorders is restless legs syndrome (RLS). One may wonder what on earth this is. One survey found that more than 30 different non-pain complaints were reported by people with fibromyalgia, from severe stiffness to intolerance of different stimuli.

According to FMCP: “Virtually all fibromyalgia patients have developed some other medical problems by the time they reach middle age,  Of these other medical problems, restless leg syndrome is one of the most prevalent. Many fibromyalgia non-pain symptoms are sleep-related, such as insomnia or daytime drowsiness. Indeed, one of the major diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia sufferers is fatigue.

 And, as we know, restless legs syndrome directly interferes with a person’s ability to get a good night’s rest. Studies found that restless leg syndrome is ten times more common among those with fibromyalgia than in the rest of the population.

There seems to be a definite correlation between people who suffer from restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia. In studies conducted on the subject, doctors have found that 33% of people with fibro also had restless leg syndrome, compared to just 3% of people who didn’t. One thing that restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia have in common is that no one knows what causes either condition.

Some doctors believe that genetics plays a role in determining whether you get RLS and others think a deficiency in iron in the brain could be behind it. Restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia are both diseases that are poorly understood and don’t have effective cures at the moment. But there are treatments available. If you have continuous trouble sleeping with these disorders, see a competent doctor as soon as possible.

They can prescribe a number of medications that can actually help you fight your symptoms. Both FMS and RLS are considered neurological conditions, so they may have common mechanisms in the brain.

It’s hard to manage one medical condition, and harder still to manage two or more. The good news is that RLS treatment and the resulting better quality sleep is likely to ease your fibromyalgia symptoms.

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Symptoms of restless leg syndrome

The primary symptom of RLS is odd sensations (paresthesias) or unpleasant sensations (dysesthesias) in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move to relieve these sensations. This phenomenon is not associated with FMS and requires different treatment.

Other Symptoms may include the sensation of creeping, burning, crawling, or tugging in the legs. At times, these sensations are fairly minor. Other times, they can be really painful. They can cause an overwhelming urge to move the legs to find some relief. These sensations usually start when a person is relaxed, which means they can keep someone from falling asleep or wake them up during the night. That causes the person to be truly exhausted and function below an optimum level the next day.

Treatment

There’s a wide range of dopamine agonist drugs doctors use to treat the restless leg syndrome. And it turns out that even just some basic lifestyle changes like exercise and eliminating nicotine and caffeine can really help with RLS. The same is true of fibromyalgia. .

For some causes, such as peripheral neuropathy, successfully treating the underlying cause may result in disappearance of symptoms. Additionally, many pregnant women find that their symptoms disappear once they give birth. treatments can be as varied as the people who suffer from this condition. There is no cure for RLS, but there are ways to prevent or limit its symptoms.

Take Neurontin for your fibromyalgia symptoms, it can also be helpful for your RLS symptoms. Eating protein before bed to avoid a drop in blood sugar (examples are cheese, a handful of almonds, or a hard-boiled egg).

Ambien, Klonopin, and especially Neurontin are three prescription medications that can be very helpful for treating both RLS and fibromyalgia in general. Adjust your dosage to just the amount you need to get adequate sleep and to stop kicking your spouse.

Contributing factors

Drop in blood sugar while sleeping. This is a very common problem in fibromyalgia, and can often be helped by simply eating 1-2 ounces of protein, such as a hardboiled egg, before going to bed. Inadequate levels of thyroid. Getting your thyroid numbers to healthy levels can often be very helpful. Inadequate levels of dopamine, which is a brain neurotransmitter that requires iron for healthy production.

Low dopamine is very common in fibromyalgia, and in the general population. Insufficient levels contribute to increased pain, which is another serious concern in fibromyalgia. Certain medications, such as antidepressants and allergy medications

Home remedies

  • Walking or stretching out the legs before bed.
  • Doing challenging mental activities before bed, like sudoku, meditation, or a crossword puzzle,
  • removing triggers that can exacerbate symptoms,
  • Treating sleep apnea or any other underlying conditions,
  • taking a hot or cold bath,
  • removing computers, TVs, and phones from the bedroom,
  • massaging the legs, or uncomfortable areas,
  • sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room,
  • applying hot or cold packs to the restless limbs

Supplements

Some patients experiencing low iron may do well on a trial of iron supplementation. Others may find that magnesium deficiency is a culprit in worsening symptoms. Muscle relaxing plants consumed as a tea or tincture may also help, they include Milky oats (Avena sativa), Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera), Gotu kola (Centella asiatica). Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), and kava (Piper methysticum) are also all relaxing herbs that can be consumed as tea before bedtime.

It is absolutely crucial to check with your doctor before utilizing natural remedies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not regulate supplements. Some may interact harmfully with prescription medications you’re taking.

References:

  • What Is Restless Leg Syndrome? via Pain Doctor
  • Fibromyalgia & Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) by Adrienne Dellwo via Very Well

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