Restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia have a surprisingly close relationship. And if you have a fibromyalgia, there’s a good chance you have restless leg syndrome (or RLS) as well.
But maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with one of these diseases and you want to know about restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia. In which case, some good, basic information will really help you out when it comes to learning how to deal with your symptoms. So let’s look at what each condition is and how restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia are related.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Basically, restless leg syndrome is a disorder in your brain that causes a feeling of itching or stinging in your limbs. Often it shows up in the legs, causing people with the disorder to constantly twitch their legs looking for some relief, and thus “restless legs.”
But because this feeling is usually worse when the body is at rest, people with restless leg syndrome have trouble sleeping since it’s difficult to drift off when your legs are twitching. In the worst cases, this can make it close to impossible to sleep, leaving people with severe RLS with chronic fatigue and all the complications associated with it.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes your body to feel a constant sense of pain. This pain is located along 18 points in your body that are tender to the touch. In addition to the pain, people with fibromyalgia feel a constant fatigue and mental fog.
No one is sure what exactly causes fibromyalgia, but theories range from a neurological disorder to food allergy, to it being an autoimmune disease. Either way, people with fibromyalgia find that their pain can get so severe that they are effectively disabled, making it a horrible disease to live with.
How Do Restless Leg Syndrome And Fibro Affect Each Other?
There seems to be a definite correlation between people who suffer from restless leg syndrome and fibro. In studies conducted on the subject, doctors have found that 33% of people with fibro also had restless leg syndrome, compared to just 3% of people who didn’t.
So people with fibro are more than ten times as likely to develop RLS, but no one is sure why.
One thing that restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia have in common is that no one knows what causes either condition. Some doctors believe that genetics plays a role in determining whether you get RLS and others think a deficiency in iron in the brain could be behind it.
But the biggest, and the most troubling, relation between restless leg syndrome and fibromyaglia is that both make it hard to sleep. Fibromyalgia patients already suffer from chronic fatigue, and the pain they feel at night makes getting a decent rest very difficult.
RLS, meanwhile, also makes it hard to sleep since it’s symptoms are worst during rest. So if you have both restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia, the odds of you getting a good night’s sleep are pretty low. Even if you can sleep through the pain of fibromyalgia, the restless legs make laying still so you can sleep difficult.
And that’s a serious problem because not getting enough sleep can kill you. You see, not getting enough sleep is linked to everything from car accidents to heart attacks. And extended periods of sleep deprivation can even result in vivid hallucinations.
So when you consider that, these two diseases are a much bigger deal than “just not getting enough sleep.” They are a set of related and often concurrent disorders that can make your every waking hour a zombified slog through daily tasks. And taken together they can wreck your health to the point that you are far more likely to end up in an early grave.
Restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia are both diseases that are poorly understood and don’t have effective cures at the moment. But there are treatments available. If you have persistent trouble sleeping with these disorders, see a competent doctor as soon as possible. They can prescribe a number of medications that can actually help you fight your symptoms.
There’s a wide range of dopamine agonist drugs doctors use to treat the restless leg syndrome. And it turns out that even just some basic lifestyle changes like exercise and eliminating nicotine and caffeine can really help with RLS. The same is true of fibromyalgia. And new treatments are being invented all the time.
Just remember that the worst thing you can do is give up. It’s tempting after you’ve been to what feels like a hundred doctors and gotten no relief to just give up on any hope of sleeping again. But hope that there is something out there, or will be one day, that can help you live a normal life again is one thing you can’t give up.
So tell us, do you have restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia? Does anything help you sleep? Tell us in the comments.