Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) doesn’t cause lymph nodes to swell but an underlying health problem that contributes to RLS can. In addition the inability to sleep well can lead to a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of acquiring health problems that cause enlarged lymph nodes. A good night’s sleep allows the body to regenerate and the mind to rest. When there is a lack of adequate sleep it can cause problems during the day and health problems.

Those who suffer with the symptoms of restless leg syndrome often have their sleep interrupted. This condition, which is also known as Ekbom’s syndrome, is a neurological condition that may affect up to 10% of the population. Most suffers have minor symptoms and are often able to adapt to the occasional sleep deprived nights while others have such severe symptoms that it not only leaves them exhausted during the day, but also affects their health.

People who don’t get adequate sleep have an increased risk of getting an infection or illness, which could mean that there are secondary symptoms, like swollen lymph nodes in addition to the primary symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

Diagnosing Done Right

Sometimes the symptoms of restless leg syndrome seem vague, which makes it hard to diagnose. Before it was recognized as a disease, suffers went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

To be diagnosed with RLS, the following criteria must be met:

  • A strong (sometimes irresistible) urge to move your legs that may be accompanied by uncomfortable sensations (creeping, itching, pulling, tugging or gnawing)
  • Symptoms start or become worse during rest, lengthy times of rest increase the chance that the symptoms will occur and tend to occur with increased severity.
  • When legs are moving the symptoms lesson, relief may be complete or partial but generally begins very soon after an activity is started, relief continues for as long as the motor activity continues.
  • In the evening symptoms are worse, especially when lying down, activities that bother you at night are not a problem during the day.

Since there is not a diagnostic test to determine if someone has restless leg syndrome, keeping accurate records of the symptoms is very important. Secondary symptoms, illnesses, and infections should also be tracked. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Irritability, confusion, fatigue, disorientation and weakened immune system from inadequate and interrupted sleep
  • Increase in illness and infections due to a weakened immune system
  • Swollen lymph nodes from illness or infection

There are occasions that restless leg syndrome can be a secondary symptom. Some diseases may cause conditions that contribute to RSL. This can include lymphoma and other diseases of the blood. After a diagnosis is made then the cause can be determined to help relieve symptoms.

Causes and Triggers of Uncomfortable Leg Sensations

A precise description of symptoms of restless leg syndrome help with diagnosis, accurate journaling of the patterns and symptoms can help with identifying the cause and triggers of RLS. Some of the factors that affect this condition include the following:

  • Women tend to suffer from this a little more often than men do
  • Symptoms begin most often in middle age
  • Anyone can get restless leg syndrome, even infants, though it is uncommon
  • Runs in families with the symptoms first appearing at a younger ages and progressing slower than those with no family history of it
  • Symptoms of restless leg syndrome differ from person to person varying from mild to severe
  • In the 50% of restless leg syndrome sufferers, a relative also has restless leg syndrome

Though there are still a lot of unknowns regarding restless leg syndrome causes, there are some recognized triggers and causes that are known:

  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc.)
  • Cold temperatures
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Resting
  • Lying down
  • Sleeping
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Stimulants (like in non-drowsy medications)

Medical conditions like the following can cause RLS:

  • Genetics
  • Medical conditions that cause deficiencies
  • Obesity
  • Last trimester of pregnancy
  • Postpartum
  • Chronic disease like diabetes, hormone disease, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy
  • Anemia
  • Iron deficiency
  • Neurological abnormalities in the brain
  • Diabetes
  • Dopamine and serotonin system malfunction
  • Trauma to the brain
  • Infectious or inflammatory conditions
  • Lymphoma or other cancer
  • Neurological abnormalities in the spine
  • Spinal cord nerve impairment
  • Renal stones (colic)

Some of the causes will have additional symptoms. When there is lymph node involvement it can be an indication of a serious illness (lymphoma) or life threatening infection (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) so it is important to consult a healthcare professional. It may be something less serious, but only a physician can diagnose the cause. The condition may also be caused by anemia, find out more about anemia at wikipedia.org, or other deficiency from a serious health condition. To be able to sort out the symptoms of RLS and other health issues it will be necessary to be familiar with the symptoms of this condition.

The Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome

Though there are some symptoms that may be caused by either a primary or secondary medical condition to restless leg syndrome, there are some symptoms that will aide in the diagnosis of this condition so it is important to note them in as much detail as possible.

Below are the symptoms that could indicate restless leg syndrome:

  • Unusual itching
  • Tingling on skin
  • Crawling sensations deep in the legs
  • Very intense, irresistible urge to move legs to relieve sensations
  • Restlessness when resting or attempting to sleep
  • Desire to rub legs, constantly changing position in bed, and pace

Sensations commonly occur when sitting or lying down, during times of rest symptoms often flare up or increase, which can affect the ability to sleep properly. Disruption of sleep can cause inadequate rest and prevent entering into necessary sleep cycles that are necessary for efficient functioning during the daytime.

During the time when other medical conditions are either ruled out or treated, RLS will still need to be treated.

Relieving the Discomfort of Restless Leg Syndrome

Handling medical conditions causing restless leg syndrome and eliminating triggers will relieve the uncomfortable sensations that are associated with this condition.

Additional ways to treat it include the following:

  • Change activity
  • Stimulating activity before bed
  • Avoid extreme temperatures
  • Hot baths
  • Leg massages
  • Heating pad on the legs
  • Proper nutrition
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Constant exercise
  • Avoid going to bed before sleepy

Relieving the affects of lack of sleep is more difficult. The irritability, fatigue, confusion, short fuse, stress intolerance, behavior problems, being anti-social, appetite changes, and inability to focus are only eased when adequate sleep is attained.

This is why it is so important to treat the symptoms so sufficient sleep is attained. When restless leg syndrome has a severe and negative impact on the quality of a sufferer’s life, then medications may be necessary to treat it until other methods are successful.

Medications For Treatment

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is also known as Ekbom’s syndrome.. This condition can be treated with medications when the symptoms are severe. Some of the medications that work for other medical conditions can be used to provide relief for RLS. Medications for Parkinson’s disease work because they reduce the chemical messenger dopamine, which works by reducing motion in the legs. Also some medications used to control epilepsy are effective.

These are some of the medications that are used for treatment:

  • Opioids – codeine, Vicodin, and Percocet
  • Muscle relaxants and sleep medications – clonazepam, Lunesta, and ramelteon
  • Pramipexole (Mirapex), pergolide (Permax), ropinirole (Requip), and combination of carbidopa and levodopa (Sinemet)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Over the counter pain relievers and sleep aides-Advil, Motrin, NiQuil Z

Medications that affect iron absorption and cause other nutritional deficiencies may actually contribute to restless leg syndrome so they should be avoided whenever possible.

Conclusion

To avoid side affects of medications it is a good idea to follow healthy eating and exercising habits, avoid RLS triggers, get as much rest as possible, and treat the symptoms as they arise. Restless leg syndrome in itself is not a serious condition but if the symptoms are accompanied by swollen lymph nodes it could be an indication of a serious ailment.

The interruption and lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of other health issues. It always best to consult with a medical professional instead of attempting to self-diagnose and miss a serious illness like cancer, which often have a higher survival rate with early diagnosis. Though serious health problems may not be common, they do occur.