What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?
RLS is considered a neurological disorder that is worse during times of rest (especially at night while trying to fall asleep).
Almost one million school-age children are affected by this. Many times parents do not tell their doctor about it because they don’t think it’s “real” enough to seek medical attention, but the sensations are absolutely real and can greatly interfere with sleep.
The exact cause is unknown.
What are Symptoms of RLS?
Children with RLS describe the sensations as unpleasant feelings in their legs, such as creeping, crawling, pulling, or throbbing. Many times it is accompanied with an uncontrollable desire to move the legs (stretch, flex, jerk, kick). Although both legs are commonly affected together, it can less commonly affect the arms, trunk, or head.
The movement of legs helps the discomfort. This is why it’s also classified as a movement disorder.
Left untreated, your child may have difficulty falling asleep, daytime tiredness, or fatigue.
What can I do?
Your child’s iron levels might be checked to see if this is the cause. If so, taking iron supplements to treat the anemia will treat the symptoms of RLS.
Other measures include:
- Decrease caffeine use (no nicotine or alcohol use)
- Maintain a regular sleep pattern, including going to sleep and waking up at relatively the same time daily (even on weekends) and developing a routine before bed
- Daily exercise and/or stretching
- Massage of legs prior to sleeping
- Hot baths
- Hot or cold packs to legs