|CREEPY LEGS---RESTLESS LEGS
All of the muscles in both legs feel like they have turned to the consistency of rubber bands and are loosening and tightening at the same time. It feels like all of the muscles are like the limbs of trees in a hurricane.
Then I get out of bed and walk.
Many people of all ages suffer from intense leg pain. For them I share my experience with the pain of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). It is a medical condition which researchers have been aware of for over forty years but they have found no way to provide relief from the pain. That is, until recently---in 2006.
The deep, pounding pain also strikes me while I sit in my favorite chair and drive my car. On those occasions, I am compelled to get up from the chair or stop the car to walk until the pain decreases or stops. The pain is especially bad, and difficult to deal with, when I travel in an airplane more than two hours. When it strikes, I know that it is disturbing nearby passengers when I shift my legs around or stand.
Finally, I excuse myself, squeeze in front of one or two passengers, and walk the aisle. Of course, this is a problem if the stewards are serving drinks so I go back to my seat and continue to hurt.
Sometimes a soak in a hot bath followed by placing a heating pad or electric blanket to keep my feet warm allows me to go to sleep. I have tried massaging my legs or propping them higher than my head, and many other methods to help me drop off to sleep.
When I am so sleepy that I don’t want to give in to the pain and get up to walk around, I try to stop the pain by turning onto my back and sides. For me, however, the only position that eases the pain somewhat is to pull my knees up to my chin as tightly as possible in a fetal position.
When that doesn’t work, I get up, walk awhile and then lie face down on the floor with my spine in a straight line.
Finally I sleep.
Anyone within hearing distance can hear me moaning and groaning with the intense pain. Crying out may not ease it, but it assures me that the pain won’t kill me.
Various muscles of my body jerk during the day and night. But the jerks cause no pain. If someone observes me taking a nap, they say that I jerk often while sleeping.
When awake, I am well aware when my hand jerks, that it usually happens when I reach to pick up a glass or am holding one and I often drop it, and spill my drink. That even happens in public and causes embarrassment.
Several months after the pain started, I described the condition to my physician. I also told him that most of the time, I seldom sleep more than two hours at a time. He immediately suggested that it might be a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Until that moment, I had never heard of such a medical condition.
My physician, Dr. Steven Seres, Portland, Oregon, said that he could not prescribe medication until I was given a sleep test. I immediately scheduled an appointment.
The test was an interesting experience.
First the technician glued 20 or more wires to my skull; and then, she told me to sleep while she monitored the 20 sites, video-taped every move and recorded every sound.
The test results indicated that I slept 377 minutes out of 466 possible minutes and never went into REM sleep. Further, I shifted in place 103 times and was aroused 134 times with 48 of those being spontaneous arousals.
Most significantly, the sleep test indicated, “This patient has frequent periodic limb movements during sleep with some of them associated sleep disruption. Certainly she has symptoms of restless legs syndrome and intervention would be appropriate, especially if she has symptoms of RLS while awake. Diagnosis: Periodic limb movement disorder.”
Finally, I qualified for medication.
Dr. Seres said that there were two types of medication available for RLS. He prescribed pramipexole dihydrochloride. I take 0.25 mg one hour before going to bed. Since then I have learned that dental disease may become extensive in patients with RLS because the medications reduce saliva. I want to save my teeth for many more years so this worries me.
I no longer suffer with that dreadful pain. I am grateful for medical research and medication that have once again stopped the pain when I take it two hours before bedtime.
Medications are now available for RLS sufferers. Pain is severe in sufferers of Restless legs syndrome (RLS) which is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Individuals affected with the disorder describe the sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs.
The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. Some patients have remissions, periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, or months, although symptoms usually eventually reappear.