Restless Leg Syndrome

It’s been well over forty years since the burning began. At first I thought my legs hurt because of a lack of potassium. I played on two soccer teams, referred three to four youth soccer games a weekend, and coached a girls’ team. I was on the field five days a week, and almost all of this after work.

My legs would jump and twitch with pain. It felt as if someone was shooting an electrical current down my legs. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I could sit on the floor with legs fully extended, holding them flat to the carpet, and the pain would go away. But as time passed, that stopped helping.

I went online and read somewhere that it could be due to a lack of potassium, so I ate bananas and drank sports drinks, both of which I greatly dislike. Neither helped.

The pain worsened. I was uncomfortable sitting, stretched out on the coach, and in bed. I was unable to get a good night’s sleep, and exhaustion was taking its toll. Some mornings I drove to work in a fog, fighting to keep my eyes open. I was lucky that I didn’t kill anyone.

Then one day while reading the paper I saw a tiny ad for a medication to help with restless leg syndrome. That ad saved me! For one, it proved that I wasn’t hallucinating the pain. For another, it gave my symptoms a name. And lastly, it offered relief.

My doctor understood and gave me a medication that works. I’ve been taking it, as needed, now for those forty years.

Restless Leg Syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system that causes an intense urge to move the legs, and at times, the arms. Movement seems to temporarily quell the pain, but that relief might only last seconds before the urge to move comes again.

Symptoms come and go. Some days I feel fine and then all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, the pain comes. I have to switch positions, get up and move, and when I can’t stand it any longer, take the meds.

Usually it hits in the evenings, but if I’m in a confined space, such as on a long car ride or in an airplane, or even in the movies or at the theater, but it can occur at any time and comes on suddenly. One moment I’m at peace, the next my legs have to move.

I did some research into the disorder and found that it affects about 10% of the population, mostly women. It usually hits people considered middle age or older. There is no known cause, but they do suspect that genes could play a role. Why? Studies have found that nearly half of people with the condition have a family member with it. Which does not bode well for my kids.

Like me, many people don’t go see a doctor for fear that they won’t be taken seriously. I truly thought my doctor might laugh at me or think I was crazy. Thankfully she didn’t.

If you get the sensation like bugs are crawling inside your legs, or an intense itching that seems to be near the bone, or a throbbing, pulsing pain that runs up and down your legs, please see a doctor. It is not life threatening, but interferes with life’s activities.

Restless Leg Syndrome is real.


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