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Get Some Sleep: Is restless legs syndrome real?
January 11th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Get Some Sleep: Is restless legs syndrome real?

One question that I am often asked is whether restless legs syndrome is a disorder made up by the pharmaceutical companies.  I can see why people might think that;  few people, including doctors, had heard of  it 20 years ago,  but media reports and ads for medications have put the term into common use.

But as someone who has treated hundreds of patients with this disorder, I can attest to its existence as well as its ability to seriously affect patients’ quality of life.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is not the same as foot tapping, nor is it the same as leg cramps.  Patients complain of strange and disturbing feelings usually in their lower legs that usually happen only  in the evening when they are sitting or lying down.  They move their legs voluntarily in an attempt to find relief.  Unfortunately, the minute they stop moving or rubbing their legs, the feeling returns, hence the repeated movement.  In severe cases, the symptoms can begin earlier in the day and can involve the arms or other body parts.  However, when people first develop this problem, it almost always starts in the evening and ends up preventing them from sleeping, which is why it's considered a sleep disorder.

This is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that there is no test that uncovers it.  Rather it is diagnosed based on the constellation of signs and symptoms that patients present.  However, we often do an overnight sleep test because there is a disorder that can go along with RLS which is called Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and this entails rhythmic kicking while asleep.  Sometimes people have PLMD without having RLS, and not all people with RLS will have significant limb movements during their sleep test.

There are population studies that show varying prevalence rates of 5-15%,  but only about 3% of adults and 0.5% of children have it often enough or severe enough to warrant treatment.  There appears to be a genetic component because 40% adults and 70% of children who have primary RLS report that at least one first-degree relative also suffers with this condition.  In most studies, it is approximately twice as common in women as compared to men.  One study found that 27% of pregnant women complained of RLS symptoms.

We do not understand what causes RLS but there seems to be a dysregulation of dopamine, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter.  RLS is greatly increased in patients with Parkinson’s disease, which involves a depletion of dopamine.  It should be noted that people with RLS do not have a depletion of dopamine, just a dysregulation, and there is no evidence that they are at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

 Iron deficiency can also be involved because in order to synthesize dopamine it is necessary to have sufficient amounts of stored iron in the central nervous system.  Therefore, we do see an increase in prevalence of RLS in people with anemia, end stage kidney disease and in pregnant women, all conditions that involve low levels of the storage form of iron, which is known as ferritin.  There is a simple blood test that can be checked in people with RLS symptoms and if the level is below 50 ng/ml, then oral iron replacement is indicated.  In fact, it is now recommended that all patients with RLS take extra iron each day.

We also know that certain medications can cause or aggravate RLS, medications such as antidepressants, over-the-counter antihistamines and nausea medications such as metoclopramide.  Substances such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can also worsen the symptoms of RLS.

If symptoms are very mild or infrequent, then people can try stretching exercises before the time that the symptoms  typically start or they can try doing mentally stimulating tasks such as crossword puzzles, which can help distract them. However, if RLS symptoms occur more than twice a week, most patients want treatment.  Besides adding more iron to the diet, there are several classes of prescription medications that can be used, the most common being dopamine agonists (i.e. synthetic dopamine replacement).  It is important that physicians have experience treating RLS because older dopamine agonists such as carbidopa/levodopa must be used with caution as they can actually worsen the RLS symptoms.

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She’ll blog on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.

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Filed under: Sleep

soundoff (543 Responses)
  1. natman

    In my early 20's I was a regular user of Extacy during that time I had severe Restless leg syndrome and a benign tremor.
    This article describes a link between dopamine levels and RLS.
    This helps to explain why now many years later I am mostly free of the RLS ( pressure on the calf muscles will sometimes kick start them) and my tremor is gone.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mike

    I get this every night. I wash my legs (knee down) with cold water (even on freezing cold nights), after I brush my teeth and ready to go to sleep, and it goes away. I can't sleep if I dont wash with cold water. Warm water does not help at all. Naturopathy !!

    January 11, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. J

    Answer: No

    January 11, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ultimate Cynic

    I have suffered from RLS since childhood. Would nearly drive me mad in school, at church and especially at night. I found no sympathy from family, school, or anyone else. A few years ago, after surgery, I discovered that Lortab (tylenol with oxycodone) would stop the symptoms. I can take 1/2 of a 5/500 Lortab and within 15 minutes, the symptoms completely disappear. It is the most amazing thing. God only knows how many nights I walked in circles to relieve the feeling. All my brothers and sisters have the problem.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. T

    fgfhjhjytth

    January 11, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. This Guy

    Has anybody tried the iron thing with success?

    January 11, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • This Guy

      Why yes, I have tried it and it really worked/didn't work at all.

      January 11, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • This Guy

      Great, thank you all for your abundant replies, what a great help!

      January 11, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  7. Ben

    I have had RLS for several years. It gets worse in the winter months. I keep my electric blanket on high and use Aspercreme on my legs. I was prescribed Klonopin, but only take small amounts because of the side effects.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. HWE

    RLS exists – you have to walk fast for 3 miles late in the day.
    P.S. In the present tense "lay" has to take an object.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Smokey

    It's certainly a physiological phenomenon, both myself and my dad have the "restless legs" as described in this article...but a medical condition requiring treatment? Don't be ridiculous. The treatment is to shake a leg! Or maybe go for a walk or something. Good luck charging us for that "treatment" big pharma!

    January 11, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      You mileage may vary. I don't have it too bad too often, but when it occurs – it's late at night. Not exactly a time conducive to the type of walking or rigorous exercise that alleviates the symptoms. For me (and my mother, and grandfather) – it occurs usually at times when we are trying to sleep. (For me, late night, for my mother, very very early AM).

      January 11, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
  10. Joanna

    I have suffered from RLS since my early teens. It affects both calves and shoulders, usually every night. I have tried sleep aids, vitamins, etc. and nothing ever worked for me. Many of my family members suffer from it although theirs is less severe than mine. My Mom found the only thing that has ever relieved the symptoms and it is called Leg Relaxer made by Nature's Rite. It is a simple roll-on application that contains Cramp Bark, Mexican Wild Yam, Lavender, Sage, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John's Wort and Vitamin C. Sometimes on really bad nights I have to apply it 2-3 times but once usually does the trick. I don't know what I would do without it since RLS usually gets me every night.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Me Too

    I get it at night when I'm on the couch watching TV. Feels like a tingling and I either have to start punching my legs or stand up. It's either my posure or when I'm tired. Unless it's something totally different because it never happens when I'm in bed. Maybe I'm just retarded. Could sciatica be related to it? I didn't get much sleep last night. I'll be glad when the weekend comes, but we're supposed to get a lot of snow in PA. I only have one snow shovel, and I still have leftover ham in the fridge from New Years Day so I put it in the freezer. I hate to throw out good food. I couldn't eat my lunch today but I did 45 minutes on the treadmill yesterday. Almost time to go home!

    January 11, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rita

    Suffered extensively with RLS, and am now free from it. What I had discovered my RLS to be caused from was none less than pressure on the spine–from the inside of my body. I noticed I would experience RLS in situations such as riding in a car, sitting at the table visiting after a meal, during a movie, or while sleeping in bed. The pressure I was experiencing was from....you guessed it....GAS! So I discovered ways to avoid this, and my problems are now gone. No more waking up kicking or fidgeting endlessly in the car while on trips. Between over-the-counter medications such as Gas-x and other embarrassing little tricks to avoid (or expel) gas, I'm free from RLS!

    January 11, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      "Gas" causing pressure on the spine? Don't know if I buy it...

      January 11, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  13. Patty Mc

    I have not had a diagnosis of RLS but kicking at night kept both me and my husband awake, so much so that we bought a king size bed so he could get some rest. My kicking essentially ceased when my doctor put me on a large Vitamin D (50,000 iu) supplement before I began a calcium replacement plan. I can tell when it is time to take the Vitamin D again because I begin to kick about 5 days before I'm due to take it. This is purely anecdotal, but I don't believe I've ever seen Vitamin D mentioned in connection with kicking legs or RLS. It's worth a try as long as you monitor the Vitamin D.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rita

    Brad....it's worth a try, right? What if it worked?

    January 11, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      I will say this – I do have spinal issues, (see a chiropractor for distinct lower and upper back pain). And I do notice that my RLS often occurs at night, before bed, when I am sitting on my couch. So it could indeed by that I am sitting in a weird position which is torquing the nerves in my lower back, for example. So it *could* have to do with spinal nerve pressure.

      I would be surprised though that gastric gas could put pressure on those nerves – all the way though the vertebrae. But nerve trunks to run out – and the layout does vary from person to person – so maybe you're more prone to pressure that way? Worth thinking about...

      January 11, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
  15. sleepingwellnow

    I've hald mild-moderate RLS my whole life and was just getting frustrated enought to take meds but increased my iron and that seems to be working very well. One of the main ways I did it was by cooking most of my food in a cast-iron pan, eating food with iron (lots of spinach) and supplements. I exercise a lot can support what others have said – it doesn't matter one bit. One interesting tidbit – my grandmother had Parkinson's disease.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Geez

    I weigh close to 600 pounds, but due to being so large I can't shake my leg like I used to....

    January 11, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • This Guy

      Yous aid you would pay me "Tuesday for a Hamburger today". Well, its Tuesday fat man!

      January 11, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
  17. arthur

    Its not real. Drug companies now research drugs and see what reaction the body has then creates disease that the medication can treat.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Read a little closer. Many many of us here have indicated that we have had this 30 – 40 – 50 years. Long before the drug companies came along with it – and long before there was even a name for it.

      I'm not saying the drug companies have a magic cure for it – or any cure for that matter – but it *is* real.

      January 11, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Idiot, it is real. I have it and I am on NO medication.

      January 11, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  18. JacktheCritic

    I can't believe people would doubt this. It's a very real problem, having suffered from it for years myself. Couple that with the average stress associated with College, I have many sleepless nights.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Karen

    I have an extremely mild case of RLS - I'd say I get it about 12 times a year, and I’m totally able to manage it without meds. I consider myself ‘lucky’, and can't imagine having it more frequent and/or intense. For me, it feels like my legs are being wound tightly, like a coil, and to release the feeling, I have to move them. It takes about 15-20 seconds for the cycle to repeat, so I’m constantly moving them for relief during a flare-up. For me, two things tend to work – a good leg massage that goes downward, from the thighs to the toes (almost like the energy is getting pushed out and released through my toes), and also meditation, where I’m imagining the exact same thing – I’m forcing all the energy down my legs and out through my feet. Before I know it, I’m relaxed enough to sleep. Now I’m not saying I’m a meditation guru, or anything like that, and I realize my case is very mild, but these things work for me, and might help someone else too. Just a thought…. You have nothing to lose by trying these methods.

    (And, regarding the naysayers, they obviously don’t experience or relate to the condition, and are only trying to get a rise out of those of us who suffer. Just don’t pay them any attention… They speak out of ignorance.)

    January 11, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. JMIKEL

    I have had RLS for a couple of years. When it becomes irritating I take one calcium tablet and one potassium tablet.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. This Guy

    AAAAAAAAAAAH BING BING BING BING BING BING BING ZUG ZUG ZUG aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Julie

    I also have suffered from RLS since I was a child (I'm 50). I know when I am tired its at its worst and it does affect my arms sometimes. My doctor prescribed .5 mg of CLONAZEPAM, it works great and I have had no side affects. I take 1/2 to 1 pill before bedtime and it does a great job.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. lmew

    My doctor says I have rls although I'm not sure if he is correct. I've never had issues trying to fall asleep, but the twitching is awful during the day. When I was young it was just in my legs, then when I was a teenager it started in my arms. It's getting worse. It doesn't usually hurt, but it can be painful if I twitch a lot in one day. Working out doesn't affect my legs, but any kind of arm workouts makes my arms go crazy. If I drink a lot of gatorade sometimes it calms down.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. JCullen

    I have to be honest. I know exactly what the cause is. It may not be pleasant but, if you are experiencing that feeling in your legs, try to go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement. I have had it for a few years and have made this connection. Even when I thought I didn't have to go, I would try, sure enough, I had to and the feeling stopped. If you don't believe me, try it. It is frustrating when you can't sleep and have such an annoying feeling but this surely helps.

    January 11, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. DBL R

    I never have RLS if I get oral before I go to sleep

    January 11, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. sanjosemike

    Unfortunately, diabetes or pre-diabetes was not discussed in the article. Any patient with RLS, "nerve feelings" or skin sensations should be throughly evaluated for diabetes. Also included in this is checking their cholesterol. In my experience, if you have an elevated cholesterol, no medications will help you. (Yup, I am a doc). sanjosemike

    January 11, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ann

      Nerve sensations can be connected to diabetes as you mentioned, but if a diabetic diagnosis isn't found from the usual labwork, it's important for physicians and nurses to be familiar with the RLS syndrome that isn't necessarily connected to diabetes. CNN physicians and even the RLS article writer might learn more about RLS and various treatments by going through the comments that so many have helpfully added. Many people are still dealing with the complications and don't get the CNN information. I experienced it for a couple of evenings and relaxing was an effort.

      January 11, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
  27. wxnerd

    I have RLS and it can be bad. Some nights I need to get out of bed to pace so the "moving" sensation will stop. It got really bad when I had cancer and my blood counts got low. So, I started these few tricks which have helped:
    eat a banana- I noticed when my potassium was low (according to my doctors), the RLS was worse. So when I feel the twitching comign on, I will eat a banana and it will help.
    Calcium: I lots a lot of calcium during treatment, so they put me on calcium supplements (Viactive). When I forgot to take one during the day, my RLS would get bad. Now, since I am cancer free, if I feel RLS coming on, a cup of milk sometimes helps.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Rich

    Sugar is a trigger for me. I avoid sugar after 7 pm or so. It does not always eliminate it, but I noticed if i have sugar later in the the day, it always leads to a bad case of RLS that evening.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Michael Green

    You bet it's real ! It is no joke, that's for sure. I took gabapentin for years which had helped. then it stopped working. Now, I take Requip whicjh seems to be working now.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RLS

    I've noticed that the RLS symptoms worsen when on cold medication. Generally I stay away from medicines and don't believe in labelling every out of the ordinary symptom as a disorder but it was a relief to find that there is some sort of logic behind the uncomfortable symptoms. More studies need to be done on this.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. J

    I'm not a doctor, but i have something I would categorize as restless leg syndrome and i have a theory as to what causes it. I use to be a pretty heavy Advil (ibuprofen) user for bad joints and sports injuries. Advil is an anti inflammatory drug (a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug or "NSAID" to be precise) and my theory is that my body basically became addicted to it. And not like a full chemical dependency, but more of addicted to the feeling of not being inflamed...if that makes sense. If i take an Advil or another NSAID, the feeling goes away, that is until the NSAID wears of. If I tough through it for a few days and don't use any NSAIDs the feeling reduces bit, but I do feel like my legs go through withdrawal like systems. I can also reduce the feeling by completely exhausting my leg muscles forcing them to be relaxed-inducing a feeling similar to NSAID use. All of the other people i know who have been diagnosed with RLS (maybe 3 total-which i know isn't many) have also confirmed heavy NSAID use for long periods of time. Thats just my theory. I might be totally wrong, but i thought I'd put it out there for people to consider.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tinkey

    I've had it about 25 years or so. My husband and I called it "crazy legs" for years and years before he found an article about it 4 or 5 years back which confirmed I wasn't actually crazy. Night time sleep aids do cause it to get worse (like Tylenol PM which contain anti-hystamines), if I take a full dose the leg problem is worse then not sleeping as it's an all night deal. I can take half a dose without to many problems though. I'm not eager to try any medication to fix the problem as so many prescription drugs have worse side affects then the problem itself and I've lived with it this long... For me, it's a nightly thing that usually starts about 30 minutes after I've sat down for the evening – usually around 8 and it last about an hour. I don't drink, smoke and have one cup of hot tea a day so I don't think it's diet caused. It was positively horrible while I was pregnant, a 3 or 4 hour a night misery but now it's back to about an hour a night which I can live with. While it is a nuisance, it's not as bad as some ailments some people have so I don't complain. It is real however, been living with it a very long time.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. snidgets

    I don't know about RLS, but that girl in the picture has nice feet!!!.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. keith

    drug companies invented it.......therefore it is real.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. John

    As someone whose wife has this, I guarantee it's real. It's amazing that people would believe it's not real – it should be pretty obvious if you have it or not! Her leg jerks would often continue even for a while after she'd manage to fall asleep (thus keeping me awake).

    This went on for years (before we'd even heard the term RLS), and though she found certain stretches would help, this was never enough to stop things completely for her. Eventually, a doctor suggested magnesium supplements (nothing fancy – just regular vitamin pills – I think she takes a calcium/magnesium/zinc one you can get at Walmart): these worked very well for her and almost completely stopped the problems, though the symptoms returned big-time during pregnancies, even with magnesium.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. nope

    nope, it is not real. it is a reason to take meds with unacceptable side affects like organ failure and meningitis

    January 11, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. powder99

    I have RLS. Never did opiates and exercise a fair amount. I was told to take "Oil of Primrose" to relieve the symptoms. It worked for me. Not saying it would work for anyone else but it worked for me. My brother in-law phoned a doctor in Scotland who was researching it and that is the information that he received.
    I take two capsules when I feel it coming on and within the hour, the symptoms are gone. I am not a doctor so please check with yours before taking it.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Joe Mahma

    .
    .

    Utterly ludicrous, and yet another "syndrome" invented by Big Pharma. You can convince people of anything with the right message.

    .

    January 11, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • may

      Yet another person that is fortunate enough not to have some thing, so you criticize those that do...
      Don't be so cavalier...I was in my mid 40's before it happened to me... You might some day have the proof you need..

      January 11, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • WoodUshutup?

      Gee, Joe, how wonderful to have your insight. Tell me, where did you earn your medical degree? And you interned at what hospital? What experience do you have treating people for diseases and disorders? How many years have you been practicing?

      January 11, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
  39. may

    I have it.. And it IS REAL~!
    Unless you have this you could not imagine the irritation it is to have to move your legs when you are wanting to relax and just go to sleep... If you wake up in the middle of the night, some times, many times you simply can not go back to sleep..
    I usually get up and stretch my legs as tight as I can until they ache...It seems to help...

    January 11, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. T

    RLS is just a new trendy name for Akathisia.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. akwc

    I have RLS–it's maddening! Though I've heard others describe it as a tingling feeling, I'd describe mine more as a "tickle" feeling–butterflies. Have you ever gone down a hill really fast and gotten that "butterflies in the stomach" feeling? Well RLS (for me, anyways) feels EXACTLY like that "butterflies" feeling, except it's taking place in the legs and feet. And its very intense and long-lasting. It causes some reflexive twitches, and some intentional movement of the limbs in hopes of finding relief. If someone was tickling you, you would do the same thing–have some twitches by reflex, plus you would squirm around and try to resist the tickling. RLS is very similar for me, but the worst part is that no matter how much squirming and twitching I do, there is no escape from the sensation since it is coming from my own body.

    I think that because this condition doesn't usually involve actual pain, some people may think it is silly or not to be taken seriously. But this is certainly a misconception. RLS is torture. You have no escape from a self-generated "tickle". It leads to sleep deprivation, which leads to many other problems.

    For me, it took a while to realize I had it. During the night I would wake up several times with the sensations, but by morning I wouldn't remember it–I guess I was so groggy it didn't stick in my memory. It was when I had foot surgery that this became real to me. It was a major surgery–pins in my feet, etc.. During the night I began to have the sensations and my foot twitched, which woke me instantly with severe pain (pain due to my recent surgery, not the RLS).

    I have a prescription for Requip, which truly does relieve the symptoms but tends to make me sick to my stomach the next day. I don't like to take it every day–since it makes me have nausea, and since my RLS comes and goes in waves, I only take it when needed. Without this medication, I truly would go crazy.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • svscnn

      Be very carelful with Requip. I used it for a while, but it actually made my symptoms much worse as the dose wore off each evening.

      For a few months after I finally stopped using it, my entire body would convulse uncontrollably several times a night. After being off the Requip for a few years, though, it's improved – but only a little. Overall, my symptoms are now worse than they were before I ever went on it.

      January 11, 2011 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
  42. tcbocs

    I have had this for years. I have cured it through pressure points to the sciatic nerve. Medication may work but the side effects are not worth it. Two fingers, applied to the right point on the buttock for thirty seconds combined with correct breathing recalibrates any disruption and ends discomfort.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • may

      I had it for many years.. Then had pelvic surgery... I had a lot of scar tissue and blood vessels and nerves involved.. after the surgery I went about 10 years without this RLS... It was wonderful..
      since then I speculate that it is blood flow, nerves or some thing like that... Not quite understood so many think it is not real...
      It is. And some day I believe they will pin point the exact cause....And it will involve nerves or blood flow to the legs.

      January 11, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
  43. dman

    I have restless nose hair syndrome. Can you help me?

    January 11, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • svscnn

      There's this device – I believe it's called a "tweezer." It really helps. 😉

      January 11, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
  44. John

    Its a tingling feeling that comes around the knees, typically in the right knee. For me its only at night. When i sit or go to sleep. For a few months it was pretty bad. Then, it went away for about a year. Now its back. But only once or twice a week. So far, not while Im sleeping. I am only 37 and in good shape. I exercise 4-5 times a week. The feeling forces me to want to move my leg. No matter how bad I dont want to. Its weird.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. rh

    I heard of it as a teenager, well more than 20 years ago. It was something "older people got" that made them get up in the middle of the night, and made their spouse kick them out of bed.

    My brother had RLS severely from taking Paxil, but it did resolve when he was able to reduce the dosage. IMHO his generalized anxiety disorder was linked to chronic marijuana use as a teenager, which manifested in schizophrenic episodes at the time.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. carmel

    I have had this condition for 40 years. I exercise 6 days a week. I don't take opiates and never have. I don't use plastic. I only eat fresh food. It is the most painful condition I've ever had. When you can't sleep at night because you have to keep getting out of bed and walk around – or go jogging in the middle of the night – it makes for very tough days. I don't wish this on my worst enemy.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. EE

    Are there any illnesses that anyone thinks might be counterfeit?

    January 11, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. LiverKidneyBladder Meridian

    Think of the meridians and energy flow. My legs were always anxious then would jolt as the energy built up. I thought it due to a build up of toxins, offsetting my chemistry, a back injury triggering the nerves, or simply childhood trauma realized as tension that redirected energy flow.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. kusum

    I have RLS and the following works for me ... But it is just my theory. But, nothing wrong in trying.
    1. I've recently started playing Tennis and I can go to sleep easily. Sounds crazy, but I feel that my legs were demanding a work out / increased utilization.
    2. Sleeping tummy side down – Not a good practice but helps me sleep.
    3. Avoiding certain food items like Brussel sprouts, Peanuts, Cashews. So, watch out for food patterns.

    It took a long time for me to understand my body and come up with the above list. Hope it proves helpful to someone in need. Keep up the good work of sharing.

    January 11, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cbgb1

    Possible solution: foods that metabolize into alkaline byproducts. I had RLS systems for a long time. I also had bad leg cramps for the last 40 years. When I had my last flare up of gout induced arthritis in my big toe, In my search to reduce the symptoms, I came across the alkaline diet recommendations, and started foods that metabolized into alkaline byproducts. As a result, no more leg cramps, no more RLS, and I am now able to fend off gout attacks caused by acid producing foods.

    January 11, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.