What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS (also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease) is a neurologic and sleep-related movement disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move in the legs, which typically occurs or worsens at rest. Affected people may experience abnormal, uncomfortable sensations ( paresthesia or dysesthesias ) that are often linked to cramping, crawling, burning, aching, itching, or prickling deep within the affected areas.
This condition has a 10% prevalence rate, with an increase in incidences as age advances. Since the symptoms occur during sleep and relaxation, it could disrupt a good night’s sleep.
RLS causes an uncomfortable urge to move, which can be relieved by walking or moving the extremities. This interferes with sleep maintenance
How Does Genetics Influence the Risk of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?
RLS shows an anticipation inheritance – with each generation, the age of onset of this condition advances.
A GWAS meta-analysis study of RLS in European ancestry has demonstrated the significant association of RLS with MEIS1, BTBD9, PTPRD, and other genes.
BTBD9 and RLS
BTBD9 gene variants have been associated with RLS, with two experimental models providing better insights. The loss of this gene was associated with increased waking from sleep, motor activity, higher motor restlessness, and altered serum iron levels.
MEIS1 and RLS
The MEIS1 gene is a transcription factor that plays a key role in hematopoiesis, endothelial cell development, and vascular patterning.
It also plays a role in neurodevelopment.
Research studies have shown that the reduced MEIS1 levels and function of the gene may contribute to the pathogenesis of sleep-related disorders.
rs113851554 And RLS
The rs113851554 is a G>T polymorphism located in the MEIS1 gene, which is found to be correlated with multiple sleep disorders.
A GWAS meta-analysis study of RLS in European ancestry has demonstrated that the rs113851554 T allele is associated with an increased risk of developing RLS susceptibility.
Non-genetic Influences on Restless Legs Syndrome Risk
Some nutritional deficiencies have been implicated in RLS. They include:
– Vitamin D deficiency
– Iron deficiency
Some medical conditions associated with RLS are:
– Rheumatoid arthritis
Effects of Restless Legs Syndrome on Health
- Many people with RLS find it hard to fall asleep and have a good quality of sleep at night.
- There is a risk of depression and other health problems.
- Napping during the day becomes difficult.
- It interferes with your day-to-day activities, concentration, and productivity.
- It causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
- About 80% of people with RLS have a condition called periodic limb movement of sleep which causes the legs to twitch or jerk during sleep. This leads to sleep deprivation.
Tips for Managing Restless Leg Syndrome
Iron Supplements : Iron deficiency is one of the leading causes of RLS. If you test positive for iron deficiency, you may get started on iron supplements after consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Baths and massages : Warm showers and massages can help relax muscles and prevent unnecessary leg movements.
Exercise : Restless Legs Syndrome foundation recommends moderate exercising to help manage RLS.
Avoid caffeine : High caffeine intake can worsen RLS. Either limit or avoid caffeine intake.
- RLS is a neurologic and sleep-related movement disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move in the legs, which typically occurs or worsens at rest. Symptoms occur during sleep, and relaxation disrupts a good night’s sleep.
- A significant association between MEIS1, BTBD9, PTPRD genes, and RLS has been established. The T allele of the rs113851554 SNP found in the MEIS1 gene is associated with an increased risk of developing RLS.
- Vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency, depression, and diabetes are associated with RLS.
RLS leads to a risk of depression, other health problems, problems with napping, and sleep deprivation. It interferes with your day-to-day activities, concentration, and productivity.
- Iron supplements, baths and massage, exercise, and caffeine can help manage RLS.