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Is Restless Leg Syndrome a Symptom of Parkinson’s?

Are you in the habit of shaking your leg when you’re doing something important? Could these leg tremors be a sign of Parkinson’s disease?

While there’s no doubt that leg tremors are a significant part of this disease, there’s still doubt about whether it unconditionally puts you at risk of contracting Parkinson’s.

Restless Leg Syndrome

The random shaking and moving of legs is known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). This syndrome governs a recurrent urge to keep moving your legs when in a state of rest. This means individuals experiencing RLS will move their legs while sitting, lying down, or standing.

However, it has been noted that the frequency of movement increases with the occurrence of constipation and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). These conditions are two precursory symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as confirmed by a study. This is why it’s important to investigate this issue further.

Persistence of RLS

Even though RLS is more common among Parkinson’s patients than the general population, there’s still evidence of it among the general population. However, studies have brought about some new revelations. They’ve found that individuals experiencing RLS and Parkinson’s, both suffer from a dopamine-mediated communication lag.

Lack of dopamine in Parkinson’s patients is the chemical explanation for leg tremors. Evidence of impaired cell coordination due to the same chemical in the case of RLS indicates a major correlation.

Harvard Medical School analyzed the development of prodromal symptoms of Parkinson’s in relation to RLS symptoms. Early signs of Parkinson’s that the study included were constipation, RBD, hyposmia, constipation, and dream-enacting sleeping patterns. Results showed that while constipation is a non-specific symptom of Parkinson’s, recurrent RLS indicates a potential correlation with Parkinson’s disease.

Confounding Factors

There certainly has been evidence that shows RLS and Parkinson’s may be correlated. But in order to prove that RLS may put an individual at risk of developing Parkinson’s in the long-run, there’s a need for more medical grounding. This has opened the floor to discuss the role of confounding factors.

A few limitations of the study discussed above were that it didn’t account for different sexes. This is particularly important since women make a greater number in people experiencing RLS but a lower rate in people at risk of Parkinson’s.

It’s useful to follow this discussion to learn more about your condition and the risk of Parkinson’s. But for now, it’s better to seek medical help for your condition.

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