Shaking Legs Syndrome Is Curable

by Medindia Content Team on  December 22, 2005 at 8:15 PM General Health News
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Shaking Legs Syndrome Is Curable
Restlessness and a compulsive need to shake legs while sitting or lying down is a treatable health problem, but the Indian medical fraternity is not aware of it.

The condition, called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), makes it difficult for patients to sit down comfortably during air travel, long drives or even while watching a movie, say experts.

Not many people in India are aware about RLS, which is accompanied in many cases by a tingling and painful sensation in the limb.

"In India there is hardly any awareness about the syndrome among physicians, let alone the common people," said J.C. Suri, senior chest physician and head of the sleep disorder department at the Safdarjung Hospital here.

"People may not be aware that the problem can be treated after proper evaluation and diagnosis," Suri told IANS.

Most cases diagnosed by Suri were on the basis of symptoms with not even the patients or their earlier physicians recognising the problem.

"Many of the people had come to us after consultations with neurologists and other specialists. RLS is generally secondary to other problems. It is not very common as an isolated problem," said Suri.

A common indication of the problem is periodic leg movement and restlessness even during sleep. In around 70 percent of the patients, there could be muscle twitching too.

Considered to be a form of sleep disorder, RLS can have significant physical and emotional effect on sufferers, many of whom tend to get more restless towards the evening and are unable to sleep properly.

"RLS is a real medical condition like diabetes, depression or high blood pressure," said Sunil Sharma, Indian-origin director, Sleep Medicine Research, University of South Carolina.

"The symptoms may interfere with their sleep and as a result they may feel sleepy during the day, too tired to participate in their daily activities."

Results of a multi-centric trial in Europe and the US, published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine 2004, found 23,000 people suffering from RLS, indicating the large number of people who go undiagnosed for their problem.

In the US and Europe, studies have indicated that almost 10 percent of the population suffer from this problem. But in India no proper estimates have been made.

A study by the US-based NATIONAL CENTER ON SLEEP DISORDERS RESEARCH (NCSDR) however states: "A lower prevalence of the condition has been found in India, Japan and Singapore, indicating that racial or ethnic factors are associated with RLS.

"Iron deficiency and folic acid deficiency, both of which are highly prevalent in India, can lead to this problem," said Sharma, who is researching on the link between RLS and sleep apnea (severe snoring problem).

The problem could be genetic for patients aged below 40 years.

"But for those over 40 years of age with no genetic link, it could be due to underlying causes like iron and folic acid deficiency, particularly during pregnancy, diabetes or due to medications," said Sharma.

"Non-ergotamine dopamine agonist has been found very effective in 80 percent of RLS cases. Benzodiazines and other options are also available."

Sharma's advice for relief is to improve sleep schedule and reduce the intake of alcohol and tobacco, besides medication. A cold compress and massage of the affected parts can also help ease the painful sensation.

For those seeking help, the US-based Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation offers online advice.

--Edited IANS

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I am not even sure I have RLS. When having test for apnea I was told I had SLS and given prescription for carb/levo25-100MG... at bedtime.Until then I had no idea I had a sleep problem. I have been using a c-pap machine now for several years. I go to bed at 10pm and rise soon after 6:am and sleep quite well Do I have SLS or not ? Am I cured? I take many RX and only want what I need for healthy living. What do you suggest? Edith

I am 19 yrs old nd was surprised to know that its a disease. I feel pain in legs when i voulntarily keep it in a constant position nd when i shake it i feel much relaxed. Is this a very serious problem. Would it lead to any other adverse effects. Please let me know the remedies of this syndrome.


My personal experience with this has changed over the past few recent years. I am currently 17 years old, at age 13 or so in middle school, when sitting down, I would find the need to constantly have one of my legs moving up and down, I would usually keep my toes to the ground and move my leg up and down. But recently, it has moved to spasms in my legs, and occasionaly shoulders. Its difficult for me to go a full minute without having one leg invoulntarily jerking one way or another. It has become quite tiresome and i often end up with sore joints by the end of the day. Is there any hope for me?


I always keep shaking my legs during sitting positions.sometimes one sometimes both.My legs also hurt if i stay in one posture while in the car or any other place.My dad has the same gives me a nice feeling.Is this heridatery or due to some mineral or vitamin deficiency?Will this cause any harm in the future?And is it curable?Thank you


I don't experience any shaking of legs while sleeping. My legs shake when I sit down and start to shake it voluntarily. Then it shakes involuntarily like I am using a sewing machine.This gives me a relaxing sensation. I thought this "shaking legs" is normal until my wife noticed it.I've been experiencing this since childhood. We also noticed it in our son who is about to turn 3 years old. Is this the same as RLS? Can this lead to a more serious disease? How can this be treated? Thank you.


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