Restless Leg Syndrome

The misunderstood illness I chose was Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which is an illness in which someone experiences feelings of pain or discomfort (mainly in the legs) that prevents them from being able to relax or sit still. I picked this illness because I have a personal friend who suffers from this. Before she sought medical attention she was constantly getting up to move around  and could never relax for long which interfered with her daily life. For example, she was constantly getting up in the middle of the night to walk around and relieve her discomfort and she didn’t like go to see movies in a theater because she couldn’t comfortable stay seated throughout the whole thing. Both culture and biomedicine influence this illness because it is a medically treatable illness and you can receive a prescription from a medical professional to treat RLS which can provide suffers with hope for treatment and the relief from their symptoms, but culture tends to mock this disorder, which could be seen in the parody from this weeks lecture, which may cause some suffers to not seek medical treatment and be ashamed of having this illness and chose to try and muddle through their symptoms.

I think that belief and healing are intertwined and depend on one another. For example in the clip shown in the lecture different placebos have different effects, like if the patient believes the placebo was something that was going to help treat their symptoms they showed signs of improvement and if they thought it would have no effect or make things worse, their condition worsened. Also even aspects like price and size effected the outcome of placebos. For example society tends to follow the mindset that the more expensive the medication the better the effects will be, which could explain why in the clip placebos with a higher price where more effective than the cheaper alternative. I have also have heard of similar effects because my mother is an oncology research nurse and work on varying cancer treatment trails where patients where put on trials where they were randomly selected to either receive a placebo or actual medication. The patients were not told if they were receiving the placebo or not (they knew before starting the trail that they would either receive real medication or placebo). In some cases the patients who were receiving placebo treatments showed greater improvement than patients receiving the medication.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Krystn Hartner says:

    Restless Leg Syndrome is one that I thought to be very interesting because of how misunderstood that it was. I have a family member that suffers from this and I fully believe that it is a medical condition and get angry when people mock this disorder. Seeing as this disorder does have a treatment, which was stated in the post, culture should not be skeptical about it. Even when the lady was talking about this disease in the lecture, it seemed hard for her to explain it but you could see that it was a real medical condition.

    Since we have this medical condition in our family, we all understand her pain and try are best to hear her stories about it. I have told my friends about it and they actually related it back to that parody that was on SNL. I told them her side of the story and then they started to understand what it was really like. I think that people who experience this disease should try and tell their illness narrative more often so that people can understand what they actually feel instead of what culture has shown about this disease. As Hannah talked about on in this post, some people may think their illness is a joke and that’s why they don’t go get help. If this is the case, then society should start to understand all these misunderstood conditions instead of pretending that they don’t exist.

  2. Taylor Cheney says:

    I decided to comment on this post because restless leg syndrome has always been something i’ve been skeptical about. After reading your post as well as doing some further research on my own, I’ve come to realize that is really is a medical condition that many people suffer from, and not something society has made up. Many people may look at it as a joke like the comment above me mentioned, but people should try to understand the condition of restless leg syndrome as well as other misunderstood medical conditions. Personally, I’ve never known anyone that has restless leg syndrome, but socially I know that it’s something many people say they have. From personal experience, my sister always says she has the condition but she doesn’t. Many people say they have it when they realize they’re moving their feet a lot, kind of as a joke, but don’t realize that it is a real medical condition out there that people do suffer from. I think people with this condition should take advantage of illness narratives in order to help others understand what they feel from restless leg syndrome as a whole instead of what society has shown of this disease. Our culture and society today has really misconstrued and contorted the real definition of restless leg syndrome.

  3. Jenny Hallesy says:

    Restless Leg Syndrome is an illness I’ve always been curious about. For the longest time I didn’t really understand it and figured it was just an excuse for why people couldn’t sleep at night. I believe the reason that I was so unsure about RLS’s actual existence was because it was something that I had never seen someone suffer from until my sister was diagnosed with it. Even after that I was still skeptical because it was the only case I had ever directly heard of and I just figured she was trying to give my parents a good reason for why she slept in so late and was tired during the day, and we all just assumed it was because she stayed up too late. The only inclination I got that pushed me more towards the existence of RLS was the week that I suffered from severe leg pain while I was lying in bed trying to sleep. The pain was like something I had never felt before and can hardly describe. It was a sharp, deep pain that started in my knees and radiated throughout my legs. Bending and unbending my knees relieved the pain for short periods of time, but never long enough to allow me to sleep. The strangest part was that it only occurred when I was trying to sleep. I contacted my doctor and she believed that I had RLS, and then, thankfully, it stopped without the use of any medication. I’m not sure if what I suffered from was actually RLS, but if it was, I can absolutely see why it would be an illness that people would seek help for. I believe that if more people would seek out help for their RLS and share an illness narrative about their condition, there would be more of a reason for medical professionals to look more into it and decide if it is an illness that requires special treatment. Most people don’t seem to recognize that RLS is a legitimate condition and would much rather brush it off as being a made up condition. Reasons like this are exactly why it isn’t being treated as a serious condition in the medical field.

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