New research published in Journal of Physiology presents a breakthrough in the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).
RLS is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible need to move your legs. Patients complain of unpleasant symptoms, such as tingling, burning and painful cramps in their legs. Over 80% of people with RLS experience spasms or leg cramps in an uncontrollable manner, usually at night.
Until now, RLS has been thought to be caused by genetic, metabolic and central nervous systems. For the first time, the researchers showed that in fact not only the central nervous system is responsible, but also nerve cells attacking the muscles themselves.
These new studies indicate that involuntary leg movements in RLS are caused by the increased excitability of nerve cells that supply leg muscles, resulting in an increased number of signals transmitted between nerve cells.
Targeting the way messages are transmitted between nerve cells to reduce the number of messages to a normal level can help prevent the symptoms of RLS. This can be achieved with new drugs blocking ion channels that are necessary for communication between nerve cells.
Research carried out by the University of Gottingen in conjunction with the University of Sydney and Vanderbilt University included measuring the excitability of nerve cells in patients with RLS and healthy people.
The next step is to examine the effect of various drugs in patients and the effect on RLS.
Dirk Czesnik, author of correspondence, commented on the results:
"Patients suffering from restless legs syndrome complain of painful symptoms in the legs leading to sleep disorders." RLS mechanisms are still not fully understood. We have also shown that nerve cells supplying leg muscles are also responsible, and thus additional pharmacological treatments may be directed to these nerve cells ".
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