Restless legs: Just a little nervous – or is it Restless Legs syndrome?

An involuntary Twitching and rocking of the legs, the sounds not dramatic. But in the night of no sleep, with all the negative consequences. As the Restless-Legs-syndrome and how it is treated.

Who suffers from Restless Legs syndrome (RLS), is often not taken very seriously. Because of the constant urge to move the legs is not a disease, but a maximum of expression of nervousness, as the common opinion. This is when RLS is a serious neurological disease, and Yes, perhaps even the most common. Around eight million German are affected.

Important difference between RLS and anxiety

What distinguishes Restless Legs significantly from “normal” nervousness: The massive urge to move occurs especially then, if the body comes to rest – so in the evening on the Sofa, and especially at night in bed. First, the Concerned can relax and even fall asleep – after a short time, legs kicking in the top and on the calves, however, significant discomfort, which lead to Wake up and join the movement force.

The constant urge to move the legs, in turn, leads to sleep disorders, the cause is ultimately on the duration of depression and anxiety. Not least of all the sleepless nights to blame for daytime sleepiness, and seconds are sleeping. Seconds sleep is an important risk factor for accidents.

These four symptoms are typical of Restless Legs:

  • Ants run in one or both legs, Burning, Pulling

  • Movement restlessness urge and motor, legs twitching

  • All the symptoms can be improved by physical activity

  • The symptoms occur mainly in the evening and at night, with a pronounced RLS during the day with prolonged Sitting, in the car, movie theater, plane.

RLS by diseases, medications, drugs, or iron deficiency

What is the trigger for the nerve disease, was not exactly known. Today it is established that RLS messengers on the one hand, the consequence of other diseases, the side effect of certain medications or a disorder of the Nervous dopamine.

For the RLS, with an unknown trigger a dopamine disorder was no longer under suspicion. The Neurotransmitter dopamine and its precursor L-Dopa are already used therapeutically to eliminate RLS symptoms. Researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München have identified in this context, some time ago, 19 gene variants associated with RLS.

Scientists at the University of Innsbruck have now found out, how exactly dopamine and Restless Legs. Your in the journal “Movement Disorders” published study could demonstrate that a lack of iron triggered by a malfunction of mitochondria (the energy power plants of the cell) is at the root of RLS. The study also clarified that it is not genetic, but rather a functional Defect.

“Dopamine-containing substances improved in the study, the availability of iron in cells, and thus the function of the mitochondria and their energy production significantly,” said first author David Haschka. For patients with RLS and without disease bedinger cause a more targeted dopamine therapy is now possible.

The Restless Legs Test

The diagnosis of RLS is based primarily on the answers to these questions. A Self-Test of the Deutsche Restless Legs Vereinigung, the only takes a few Minute, you can give the first clues to the neurological disorder. He asks about not only according to the individual symptoms, but also as partners in the experience.

The suspected RLS, you should have the in any case of a doctor to check, contact the neurologist.

The neurologist makes the diagnosis of RLS, the L-Dopa Test

A genetic test for RLS, there is not yet, likewise, there is no Biomarker is known, the nerve disease can be detected. The doctor can only get on the basis of the questions of the typical RLS symptoms, information on the disease.

With blood tests and examination of the nervous functions, he includes other diseases or may find the cause of RLS such as iron deficiency, which is easy to handle.

In all other cases, primary RLS is the so-called L-Dopa-Test is the most important means of diagnosis. Here, the Patient takes immediately if the symptoms occur acutely, once the drug L-Dopa, which is converted to dopamine in the brain. The complaints are then set within an hour, it is regarded as relatively secure evidence that RLS is present.

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Treatment with medications that act like dopamine

The first choice is L in these cases-Dopa or dopamine agonists, which are agents that stimulate dopamine receptors. Are recommended active ingredients such as

  • Pramipexole,

  • Ropinirole

  • Rotigotine

Often manage the symptoms to reduce. Cure RLS, but with. The effect lasts only as long as the drugs are taken. After Settling leg kicking twitching and the other miss on sensations again.

However, these medications can also have side effects. So the risk that the complaints increase, and also during the day. This affects at least two to nine percent of the patients.

New therapy for RLS

Desirable new treatment options for Restless Legs. The prospects for this are good. In connection with the identification of the RLS genes, the researchers were able to determine that here is the well-known medicinal active ingredient thalidomide modulating could help. The drug is now being used against certain types of cancer such as Multiple myeloma disease.

Was developed thalidomide in the 50s as a sleep aid, and caused the thalidomide scandal. If, however, only elderly patients, especially women after the menopause, the drug use, is not likely to pass this risk. If thalidomide is so good against RLS, as the scientists hope, however, must be proved in further studies.

For more information on RLS: Deutsche Restless Legs Vereinigung

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