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Posts Tagged ‘restless legs’

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Experts: Restless legs might improve with nutritional changes

May 28th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

By Robert Shmerling. M.D., Tribune Content AgencyPremium Health News Service

4:30 a.m. CDT, April 30, 2014

Q: I have restless legs syndrome. Can diet help?

A: We don’t know what causes restless legs syndrome, but we do know that it causes unpleasant or painful sensations in the legs. This could include tingling, pulling, or crawling, along with an urge to move the legs.

A number of medications can help. However, treatment recommendations do not usually include changes in diet. Therefore, many doctors would answer “no” to your question. However, there are some associations that might be considered.

Iron deficiency is a risk factor for restless legs syndrome. So if blood tests show iron deficiency, eating iron-rich foods might help. Examples include red meat, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified cereals. But most doctors would simply recommend an iron supplement. (And your doctor may recommend testing to determine the cause of iron deficiency.)

A few studies have found that celiac disease is more common among people with restless legs syndrome. For people with both celiac disease and restless legs syndrome, eliminating gluten from the diet might improve symptoms of both conditions. However, this possibility has not been well-studied.

A study of more than 18,000 men found no connection between restless legs syndrome and an “unhealthy diet.” (This would be a diet that increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness.) But this study did not include a detailed analysis of the impact of specific foods on restless legs syndrome.

Caffeine and alcohol may affect sleep quality. Poor sleep quality can make symptoms of restless legs syndrome worse. If you’re willing, it may be worth a trial of cutting back and then eliminating both from your diet.

If you have restless legs syndrome, current evidence suggests that dietary changes are unlikely to have a major impact on your symptoms. But research regarding the connection is limited. Future research could change that.

Until then, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. And talk with your doctor about getting a blood test for iron deficiency and perhaps for celiac disease.

(Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.)

(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)


Restless Legs Syndrome

December 18th, 2012 Raquel Rothe

Latest News New RLS Drug Launched in United States-Neupro

August 9th, 2012 Raquel Rothe

“The availability of Neupro is an important step forward for US patients living with Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome,”


Sex and sleep-Sexsomnia

February 12th, 2011 admin

ADVANCE Perspective: SLEEP

Published June 24, 2010 12:33 PM by Vern Enge

In your sleep lab on a daily basis, you are probably most comfortable detecting obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and parasomnias like sleepwalking and sleep eating.
You are an expert at titrating CPAP equipment to make sure your patients can get a good night’s sleep.

But how comfortable are you at discussing embarrassing topics like sleep sex, a.k.a. sexsomnia? This is a sleep disorder possibly more common than one might expect. One study earlier this year found 7.6 percent of 832 respondents in one sleep clinic survey admitted they had initiated sexual activity with a partner while asleep and had no recollection of it. They discovered their involuntary actions only when told by their bed partners.

Three of four people self-reporting sleep sex are males, according to health reporter Jenifer Goodwin.

Having sex while asleep is listed as a common complaint of patients

Nighttime Leg Cramps

December 5th, 2010 admin

by luste
Nighttime leg cramps, symptoms, causes, treatment
October 7, 2010 in A HEALTHY YOU, News, News: Health by luste

You don’t have to sprint a marathon to get a painful leg cramp. Sometimes a muscle cramp – commonly called a “charley horse” – can wake you up from a sound sleep. Nighttime muscle cramps are more common with age, but younger people can get them too.

A muscle cramp is when a muscle involuntarily contracts and is not able to relax. The muscle may look and feel hard. Usually, the pain of night leg cramps comes on suddenly just after falling asleep, or wakes you up in the morning. The pain lingers for a few minutes, but eventually goes away. Night muscle cramps usually involve the calf muscles or those of the sole of the foot.

Night muscle cramps are not the same as restless legs syndrome, in which you get a creepy-crawly or burning feeling in your legs and feel the urge to move them. Nighttime leg cramps are not dangerous, but they are painful and often interfere with sleep. Frequent episodes are a reason to see your doctor.

What causes night leg cramps?
Any type of muscle cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction that causes pain. Exercise-related muscle cramps may be due to overuse of a certain muscle. But no one is sure what causes nighttime leg cramps, which come on while you are perfectly still. Underlying medical conditions may rarely play a role. Dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance or certain medications may also contribute. Diuretics (water pills), certain cholesterol-lowering medicines called statins, steroids and birth control pills are among the medicines linked to this condition. Pregnant woman are also more likely to have nighttime leg cramps.

What should I do when I get a nighttime leg cramp?
Studies are conflicting as to whether stretching is good for leg muscle cramps. But a lot of people find stretching helps end a painful leg cramp.

Try bending your foot up toward you until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle with pain. Then hold the stretch for a few seconds. Pulling your foot toward you using a towel also works well. Researchers believe that flexing the muscles opposite the calf (in the front of the leg) like this relaxes the calf muscles and may help relieve the pain.

You might also try:

Massaging the painful muscles with your hand
Taking a warm shower
What can I do to prevent nighttime leg cramps?
Some people recommend the following, though good studies are still needed to prove their effectiveness:

Wear good shoes. Find a sturdy pair of shoes with good arch support, especially if you have flat feet, which can put extra strain the calf muscles.
Use lighter blankets if you sleep on your back. The weight of heavy bedding can flex your feet down, pulling calf muscles and tiring them out. You can find lightweight bedding that’s made of warm material. Try sleeping on your stomach with your feet just over the edge of the bed.
Practice good sleep habits. Go to bed when you’re sleepy. Avoid alcohol or caffeine before bed.
Try preventive calf stretches three times a day. Stand three feet from a wall while leaning against it. Keep your arms outstretched with hands firmly contacting the wall. Gently press the heels down until you feel a non-painful stretch in both calves. Hold for 10 seconds then repeat after five-second intervals three or four times.
When should I call my doctor?
If your leg cramps occur frequently or are extremely painful, contact your doctor. Also contact your doctor if the pain persists. Persistent muscle aches or pain are not cramps. Muscle pain can be due to many causes, including a rare side effect of statins. These are certain medications that help lower cholesterol. Tell your doctor right away if you have muscle pain and are taking a statin (such as simvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin and others).

As part of a visit for muscle cramps, your doctor:

Will look for underlying conditions that cause muscle cramps. Peripheral vascular disease, chronic kidney failure, a thyroid condition or diabetes are some illnesses that can be related to muscle cramps. Involuntary muscle twitching and wasting may be signs of a possible serious underlying neuromuscular disease and should prompt you to seek medical attention.
Will do blood work, including tests for potassium and calcium, which are important for nerve and muscle function. Low levels of these elements can contribute to muscle cramps.
May consider alternative medications. If you are taking medications that can cause muscle cramps, your doctor may try you on a different drug.
May prescribe medications that may help relax muscles. Treatments include a calcium-channel blocker called diltiazem (Cardizem) or vitamin B complex. However, more research is needed to see how effective these medications are at preventing painful leg cramps. In the past, quinine was sometimes used as a last resort. But due to safety concerns, the FDA is now warning against using it to treat or prevent leg cramps.

Some of the more common sleep disorders

June 22nd, 2010 admin

Our slumber can be plagued by over 80 known sleep problems and disorders. It is important to talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist as these can be diagnosed and are treatable. If you are having difficulty sleeping, be sure to maintain a sleep diary and share this with your doctor or healthcare specialist when reporting the issues. Some of the more common sleep disorders include:

Circadian Rhythm Disorders-The complex biological “clock” in humans sometimes breaks down. In delayed sleep phase syndrome, the “clock” runs later than normal. The sufferer often cannot fall asleep before 3 or 4 a.m. and cannot “wake” before noon. In advanced sleep phase syndrome, a person falls asleep early, for example at 7 or 8 p.m. and wakes at 3 or a.m. and is unable to fall bask asleep.

Insomnia-is a sleep problem experienced by over 50% of Americans, according to the 2008 NSF Sleep in America Poll, who report difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, waking too early and having trouble getting back to sleep, and waking unrefreshed. Insomnia can be short or long-term and may be due to stress, an underlying medical or psychiatric problem such as depression, a loss or poor sleep/health habits.

Sleep Apnea-is commonly recognized sleep disorder. Sufferers actually stop breathing for at least 10 seconds, waking up hundreds of times per night, snorting and paused breathing as their body struggles for air. Untreated, its linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Narcolepsy-people experience “sleep attacks” that can occur at any time. Strong emotions sometimes bring on a sudden loss of muscle control called “cataplexy”. When falling asleep or waking up, sufferers also may experience brief paralysis and/or vivid images and sounds.

Restless Legs Syndrome-is recognized by people having unusual sensations in the legs (and sometimes arms) that disturb sleep. Only movement brings relief. Individuals may also experience periodic limb movement disorder, PLMD, or jerking of the legs during sleep.

Sleepwalking-a tendency to get up and wander about while asleep, is common in children and tends to run in families. Protect the sleepwalker by keeping doors and windows locked.

Sleep Terrors-often scream or fight but have no memory of the event the next day.

Treatments for sleep disorders may include medication, light therapy, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, and scheduled naps.