Restless Leg Syndrome ( jumping legs)
I would like to share with you my encounter with an interesting patient 7 years ago. I was doing my final year of general practitioner training when a pregnant female patient came to see me. She was reaching her time to give birth but was concerned by new symptoms she had developed.
She was complaining of “jumping legs at night” which was associated with tingling sensation as well as feeling as if insects where moving under her skin. This was happening at night and the ” jumping legs” were disturbing her sleep and also her partner. She was feeling tired and stressed due to the lack of sleep and also not knowing what was going on . She found that if she wakes up and rub her legs or take a walk her symptoms would stop . This was now happening every night and she had reached the end of her tether . She wanted some answers from GP registrar Dr Chireka.
I had no clue as to what was going on with this patient. I maintained my calm and asked her further questions about the severity of her symptoms and any medication she was taking as well as any family history of “jumping legs ” . I then went to present the case to my trainer . After presentation I was asked what I thought the diagnosis was and in my ignorance I just thought this was stress related problem or some form of night cramps.
My trainer smiled at me and told me that the lady was presenting with classical symptoms of ” Restless leg syndrome ” . My response was , “restless what?”, because I had never heard of that syndrome. He then explained to me what it was and asked me to go and read about it .
Reading about it I did and this is what I found;
Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs.
This can cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet , calves and thighs which is often worse in the evening or night .
The syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS).
This can affect anyone , male or female , pregnant or not .
Diagnosis is by taking a detailed history from the patient as there are no specific tests.
There are four main criteria a doctor will look for to confirm a diagnosis. These are:
1-An overwhelming urge to move your legs, usually with an uncomfortable sensation such as itching or tingling
2-Your symptoms occur or get worse when you’re resting or inactive
3-Your symptoms are relieved by moving your legs or rubbing them
4-Your symptoms are worse during the evening or at night.
The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person’s daily activities.
I will continue with part 2 tomorrow where I will look at causes and treatment options .
This article was compiled by Dr Brighton Chireka who is a GP in Folkestone Kent UK. You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Dr Chireka has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.