According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately one in ten American adults has restless legs syndrome (RLS).
RLS is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest.
People who have RLS often experience feelings of creeping or crawling, itchiness, pulling, tugging, burning and/or throbbing in their legs, and the symptoms tend to worsen in the evenings, close to bedtime. Walking around and moving resolves symptoms temporarily.
Certain factors put individuals at higher risk of developing RLS, such as pregnancy, iron deficiency (anemia), being on dialysis for end stage renal disease and peripheral neuropathy.
Four in five people who have RLS develop a sleep disorder known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).
This condition causes individuals’ limbs to move during sleep, which arouses them throughout the night and prohibits them from entering into the deeper stages of sleep.
People with periodic limb movement disorder often experience the classic symptoms of a sleeping disorder, such as headaches, lack of energy, feelings of fatigue during the day and falling asleep at inappropriate times.
Certain supplements, such as valerian root, and lifestyle modifications to improve sleep hygiene, such as going to bed at the same time each night and engaging in relaxing activities like a hot bath, massage and/or stretching, can help improve the symptoms of RLS.
However, if these methods are not helping your condition, it’s time to talk to your doctor about getting referred to a sleep study.
Our community is fortunate as Cone Health network has exceptional sleep labs located throughout the area, including the Alamance Regional Sleep Lab in Burlington, with state-of-the-art sleep monitoring equipment and a dedicated team of neurologists, sleep medicine specialists, sleep technologists and respiratory therapists.
Dr. Hemang Shah is a neurologist at Kernodle Clinic and a member of the Alamance Regional medical staff.
Dr. Shah received his Doctor of Medicine from M.P. Shah Medical College in Jamnagar, India.
After doing stroke research at UNC Chapel Hill, he did his internal medicine internship, neurology residency and clinical neurophysiology fellowship at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA.
He is board certified in neurology and has fellowship training in neuromuscular diseases and epilepsy.