Friday , September 30 2022

Discovery in the treatment of restless legs syndrome



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New research published in Journal of Physiology presents progress in the treatment of restless legs syndrome (RLS).

RLS is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible impulse to move the feet. Patients complain of unpleasant symptoms such as tingling sensations, burns and painful leg cramps. More than 80% of people with RLS experience their jerking legs or uncontrolled twitching, usually at night.

To date, it was thought that RLS is caused by genetic, metabolic and central nervous system mechanisms. For the first time, researchers show that, in fact, not only the central nervous system, but also the nerve cells targeting the muscles themselves are responsible.

This new research indicates that involuntary movements of the foot in RLS are caused by increased excitability of the nerve cells feeding the leg muscles, resulting in an increased number of signals transmitted between the nerve cells.

Targeting the way messages are sent between nerve cells to reduce the number of messages at normal levels can help prevent RLS symptoms. This could be achieved by new drugs that block the ion channels that are essential for nerve cell communication.

Research conducted by the University of Gottingen in collaboration with the University of Sydney and Vanderbilt University involved the measurement of nerve excitability of motor nerve cells of patients suffering from RLS and healthy subjects.

The next step is to investigate the effect of different drugs on patients and the effect on RLS.

Dirk Czesnik, the author of the study, commented:

Patients suffering from restless legs syndrome complain of painful feet symptoms that lead to sleep disturbances. Mechanisms for RLS are not yet fully understood. We have also shown that the nerve cells that feed the leg muscles are responsible and in this way additional drug treatments may be prior to targeting these nerve cells.

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