Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which the person suffering from it has an urge to get up and more in an effort to stop an uncomfortable sensation.  Unlike what the name of the condition states, this can also at times be felt in a person’s feet
or arms.  Those that suffer from the condition describe the sensation as a tingling, crawling, aching, or creeping feeling in the affected area.  There are currently no methods to test for RLS and it is found to be more common in patients who suffer from other illnesses.  The reason that I chose this condition to discuss is because of the clip
shown in the lecture of the women trying to describe her discomfort.  As with most subjective medical conditions, the symptoms a sufferer endures is difficult to convey to medical professionals and can vary from person to person.  This can be seen in the woman’s testimony as she struggles to explain what the sensation feels like and give specific locations as to where that sensation occurs.

Culture and biomedicine can influence the illness experience by providing a reference for people to compare their symptoms in an effort to self diagnose themselves.  The influence of culture and biomedicine in the illness experience can also be seen in
whether the condition is viewed as either a valid illness or, as the saying goes, “all in their head.”  The view of the condition has a large influence on its management and treatment.  If a sufferer feels as though society doesn’t accept the disease as a valid illness, it could prevent them from seeking medical treatment or an explanation in fear of becoming looked down upon by society.  From a biomedical point of view, if a sufferer looks for treatment from a physician that personally feels that the condition isn’t classified as a medical illness, then that person might not receive the proper treatment they need, if a form of treatment is available.

I feel that a person’s belief can ultimately affect their healing.  The double-blind study and antidepressant research discussed in the film shows the mind’s power in healing
and if the use of a placebo can help relieve a person of their symptoms then its use should be more widely accepted.  After all, a doctor’s main goal is the relief of their patient’s symptoms.



PubMed. Restless Leg Syndrome. 2011.

4 thoughts on “Restless Leg Syndrome

  1. I have always thought that this illness was not real; I thought it was some silly made up illness. I was also under the impression that it was a sleep disorder. Specifically, I thought it was something that kept you awake at night because you kept moving your legs and feet which made you stay awake. When my family and I first heard of this disease, we joked that maybe I had it because I can never quite sit still, I am always moving my feet or legs at least a little, but that was just to make fun of the so called “illness”, we did not take it seriously.
    It is clear to me that my opinions about the illness were influenced by a couple of major factors; my family and popular culture. My family is really what influenced me to believe that it was not a real disease, by joking about it and saying that it was just a disease made up so that people could have more things wrong with them and drug companies could make more money, we devalued the illness into nothing more than an imagined affliction. My knowledge of the disease at what it was came from a television commercial for a drug that was supposed to help with RLS. This is what led me to believe that it was a sleep disorder. The commercial never really explained what it was, it just had a woman saying that they could keep their feet still, and she spends a lot of the commercial talking about how it keeps her up at night, that is how I got the idea that it was sleep related.


  2. After watching the video clip about the woman with restless leg syndrome, I would give it much more consideration as a biomedical problem. Previously I genuinely thought of it as something created by the pharmaceutical industry to create profit. I think I came to this conclusion for a couple reasons. Firstly, restless leg syndrome was really the first “new” disease I had ever seen advertised. At that point I did not really think that new diseases just were discovered like that. The second reason I was so doubtful was because of the commercials that provided information about it. To me, they did not seem to provide any concrete “scientific sounding” information. Typically, drug and medical condition advertisements are full of medical jargon that, while quite over-the-heads of the average person, sound very convincing. The commercial that I remember was quite vague with a cartoonish figure with wiggly lines moving in their legs. This immediately prompted me to think, “This is a joke, right?” As I said at the beginning of this post, that video was really informative to me. Her illness narrative provided me with a more detailed understanding of the symptoms and I could really understand her suffering. Overall I would definitely say that this class has had an impact on my understanding of restless leg syndrome.

  3. My younger sister at the age of five had restless leg syndrome. She would always complain of leg pains and cramps, and an electrifying feeling that spread like spider webs throughout her entire leg. She would mainly get them in the middle of the night, immediately after waking up, and other times it was hard to predict. At that time, I was in elementary school and had no idea what RLS was, and now reading about this post has made me realize that my sister had RLS, and it is a real illness. Her leg pains would be so bad at times she would not be able to go to sleep, go to school, do simple daily activities, and visits to the doctor’s office were of no help. My family certainly was dazed and confused as to how to help my sister treat her RLS, especially with the doctor’s not knowing what to do. Her main treatment process was to not stand on her feet so much, and to massage her legs whenever possible to prevent future RLS symptoms. Then one day, the leg pains just stopped, and she stopped complaining of the pains.

    Now that I look back, they could have very well been stressed-induced pains. At the time, my grandma came down with a stroke (that has kept her bed-ridden till today), my parents were never really home cause of their jobs, and my sister was going into public schooling in a not-so-well-off area. Without subjective illnesses and restitution narratives, RLS would not exist as an illness or be understood under the sick role. I’m still not sure how or why RLS happens to people, but I do know that symptoms can get worse under stressful situations and environments.

  4. I do not know much…okay I do not know anything about restless leg syndrome. I am however old enough to remember when drugs for this contested condition first came on the market and were advertised vigorously. As harsh as it is to say given the almost whimsical name of the condition and the fact that people are starting to hear that the condition is disputed there are many people out there that do not give legitimacy to restless leg syndrome and believe that the person that has it at best. “it is all in their head” and at worst is something resembling something akin to a Somatoform disorder ”esc” . Like a lot of other non “mainstream” medical problems and suspected conditions restless leg syndrome was brought into the public eye by the popular media; ranging from Dr. Phil type shows, to advertisements, to the Mad TV skit that we saw as part of this week’s class.

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