It is difficult to put into words exactly what restless legs are. This makes the condition difficult to explain to others who have never experienced these complaints themselves. I’ve written before that misunderstanding from the environment can considerably aggravate someone’s suffering.
The GP certainly does not always understand what someone is dealing with who come to the consultation because of ‘that unpleasant feeling in the legs’. The diagnosis of RLS is therefore sometimes missed, even though the person in question does have to deal with it.
What is pain
Pain does not mean the same to everyone. What one person finds painful, another may describe as stinging, pulling or burning. Moreover, not all people have the same pain tolerance.
This makes it quite difficult to get a grip on the subject, and also to find something that can alleviate the complaints.
At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned cramping as something that a relatively small proportion of people with restless legs experience. Some also use the word “crampy.” That just sounds different.
From my own experience I know that cramps can be a painful experience. You want to move in all directions at such a moment to get that bad feeling out of your body. I wrote a blog about this before. In that blog I indicated that cramping is not the same as RLS.
However, the line between cramps and restless legs doesn’t seem to be sharp. This also applies to the distinction between RLS and pain. Apparently there is a kind of transition zone in which people with restless legs can experience a certain amount of pain or, for example, cramping. Again, this is a relatively small group within the group of people with this condition.
With this variation in the way people describe their complaints, it is of course quite difficult for a general practitioner to diagnose precisely and correctly. It is not entirely incomprehensible sometimes an incorrect diagnosis is made.
A general practitioner is a generalist, and does not always know the ins and outs of a ‘vague complaint’ such as restless legs. Either way, empathy is a good start. In any case, this helps not to make the situation even worse than it already feels for the person experiencing the complaints.
I know from fellow sufferers that an expert in the field of RLS is not always found even when referred to a neurologist. Apparently, restless legs syndrome is a condition that requires specialized knowledge and experience. Even for a specialist like a neurologist.
By now I have learned that people with restless legs can have a whole range of different experiences, all of which fall under the umbrella of the disease. Not everyone experiences the same or benefits from the same. It can also vary per period what someone benefits from.
Unfortunately, an agreement between all people with a severe form of RLS is that complaints do not entirely go away, no matter what you try. In my opinion, that does not mean at all that you should not attempt to temporarily alleviate your complaints. Sleeping better even for one night is something, I always say, and it’s well worth it.