Restless Leg Syndrome
Do you ever wonder about diseases or disorders that we have today that apparently didn’t exist 100 years ago, or even 10 years ago? Seemingly the golden child of recent television pharmaceutical advertising, restless leg syndrome (RLS) was so named in the 1940s by Swedish neurologist Karl A. Ekbom. Descriptions of the creepy-crawly feeling in the legs, however, date back to the 1600s. So why only in the last few years have we been questioned about it during episodes of Law & Order SVU: “Do you have restless leg syndrome?”
Of course Direct-to-Consumer drug company advertising is responsible for our just recently hearing of the condition. What about RLS? Is it a disease, a disorder, a fake, a come-on? You-Tube hosts advertising spoofs for the condition and Rush Limbaugh is said to have had an RLS spoof commercial running for years.
I think most of the ads are funny. And I wouldn’t dream of taking a pill to stop the feeling that I’m about to kick through the front passenger compartment of our car into the engine area because I must stretch my legs or jump out of the vehicle and off the nearest bridge. Evidently, I “suffer from” RLS.
I’m not really fond of diseases, especially the popular ones, because they allow neither a life of comfort nor one of martyrdom. How can I suffer boldly in a disease claimed by 15% of the population? (Most studies state 2.7%–still, it’s not rare.) I first noticed it as an automobile passenger on our weekend jaunts up to the high country—an elevation 3300 feet, minimum, above where we live, where, I might add, the air is thin enough at 3900 feet above Los Angeles where I lived just previously!
At first I figured it was the cramped quarters, that I merely needed more leg room. However, a couple of shopping trips to said “high country” in our roomy sedan squashed that notion. I was sure, however, nothing was wrong with me, because, as I suggested before, RLS is not a disease that can make one a hero.
As a person with a bent toward taking care of my body in as natural and holistic a fashion as I can, I first reviewed “what has changed?” I blamed it on carbon monoxide and shut off the outside air sucking in fumes from the cars in front of us. But my legs still twitched—or made me twitch them!
Then I suspected the 90-minute drive was taking me farther away from water than I was used to at my desk, where I could sip every few minutes all day long, eventually consuming my recommended couple quarts a day. Hmmm. That led me to realize that on weekends, when we usually take our jaunts, I wasn’t even sitting at my desk prior to going out. Perhaps I was cleaning house, working up a sweat in the yard, hiking—any number of less-regulated than my five-day-a-week activities. I may have been low on fluids before leaving home.
What happens next? I asked myself. With less fluid in the body, there will be less oxygen in the body, especially in the extremities. I don’t know about you, but my legs are quite a bit longer than my arms (which are a bit short for my height), so I was going with “legs” as my extreme extremities.
I started gulping bottled water like my life depended upon it, because, as I indicated, if I didn’t, I might have to fling open the car door and hurl myself to the roadside so I could stretch my legs farther than the leg-length room I had when the passenger seat was pushed all the way back and I could barely reach the floorboard.
About the time I thought half a pint helped, I’d be attacked by the invisible worms crawling under my skin, grinding my lower leg muscles into helpless compliance. I’d jerk and twist and adjust my seatbelt. Maybe a little more water would help. I wasn’t sure whether the next pint did the trick or was it arriving at our destination and being able to get out of the car and walk that helped?
Of course, I continued to contemplate how walking—and the water—both contributed to my relief. Fortunately, I’ve not been one to experience RLS very often in bed, so it hasn’t usually kept me awake. I’ve felt it enough to empathize with all those who do, however. RLS, per se¸ is not about sleep disruption as much as it is about a discomfort that begs to be called incomprehensible pain, except…it isn’t pain. It’s merely “discomfort.” A discomfort so compelling, one would….nevermind; people with RLS aren’t necessarily psychotic!
Some of the early names for the condition were anxietas tibialis, crazy legs, Ekbom syndrome, hereditary acromelalgia, nocturnal myoclonus, and Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome. You see a suggestion here for a hereditary component. That needs to be investigated further. My immediate suspicion is lifestyle passed on from parents to children, on and on. But I could be wrong.
Another piece of scientific data is less at odds with my own observations than “heredity.” That is anemia. Even slight anemia. What does that have to do with dehydration? Blood carries oxygen. Less blood (dehydration) equals less oxygen. Less iron in the blood (the oxygen-carrying workhorse) also equals less oxygen. More carbon monoxide in the blood—again, less oxygen.
It’s possible our modern diet is less iron-rich. We get less exercise. We drink more “beverages” than water. Meanwhile, it’s a very uncomfortable condition that keeps millions of people awake when they’d rather be sleeping. I wonder if a tall glass of water and a walk around the block a couple of hours before bedtime might help us avoid $60/month in Requip prescriptions?
If you opt for medication, take it with lots of water and a quick walk! It can’t hurt.
And maybe better yet, before you start pumping your body full of toxic drugs (can you believe the long list of side effects that come with these drugs . . . and people still take them!?) try the Digital Sandman program. If it helps – it helps. And if it doesn’t Holothink will refund 100% of your money (unlike your doctor and his drug making buddies).
You can test drive Digital Sandman for FREE. Visit: http://www.DigitalSandman.com and listen for just 15 minutes; you’ll feel ready for sleep!
On behalf of Holothink – Lin Ennis