JUL 06, 2017 1:03 PM PDT

Why are my legs so restless?


Restless leg syndrome, known as RLS in the medical world, is a real condition, and it's more than just feeling jittery in your legs. RLS is a neurological condition that makes you feeling a throbbing or pulling sensation in your legs which gives you an unignorable urge to move your legs. For people who suffer from RLS, sitting and lying down for any prolonged amount of time can be very difficult, which is why many people have troubles falling asleep and or staying asleep.

Although no genes have been linked to the syndrome, the condition may be a genetic disorder because it seems to run in families. But it has been shown to be linked to low-iron levels in blood, which relates to problems with dopamine signaling in the basal ganglia of the brain because the body needs iron to produce dopamine. If you have normal amounts of dopamine, your brain is able to send messages to other parts of the brain to produce smooth, controlled movements. But if there is a lack of dopamine, you can develop symptoms of throbbing or shaking muscles, as are seen in RLS and Parkinson's Disease. For that reason, some doctors recommend people with RLS iron tablets or medications called dopamine agonists, or even sleeping with a vibrating pad under your legs to distract from the restlessness!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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