Restless Legs Syndrome Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Restless Legs Syndrome and its related risk factors as they relate to nursing. The medical community has labeled Restless Legs Syndrome as idiopathic. In addition, Restless Leg Syndrome is not curable although the syndrome seems to wax and wane over time. It is a definitely annoying sleep predicament which occurs in adults and can become especially problematic for the elderly. "The prognosis of Restless Leg Syndrome is a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. Remissions do occur, but symptoms will usually reappear." (Cuellar, 2003)

Because a patient's health can so often be linked directly to sleep patterns, this disorder becomes particular troubling to the nursing community. The research gathered throughout this research process could possibly provide assistance to the nursing community with both new and seasoned staffs as well as the patient community's awareness.

Some insights into the lives of individuals who suffer from this syndrome may help create and establish possible remedies for the nursing community to utilize that may ease some of the discomforts related to Restless Legs Syndrome. Restless Legs Syndrome has been described as an irresistible urge for an individual to move his or her legs as they are quietly lying in bed preparing for a night of sleep. More detailed accounts have described Restless Legs Syndrome as a creepy crawly sensation beginning in the calf that is often associated with sensory complaints such as paresthesias and dysesthesia. Unfortunately, suffers of Restless Legs Syndrome explain that the sensations once started can often only be relieved by either walking around or in place; yet, it rarely if ever persists into daily activities.

This research will attempt to measure various existing but simple remedies such as providing vitamin E supplements prior to a patient retiring and other various remedies in controlled hospital and nursing home settings. Thus, patients can make self-evaluations through questionnaires and they can also be observed by nursing staff members also subject to providing data through the use of questionnaires. These questionnaires will then be readily available to enter into a measurable statistical format for evaluation and recommendation.

Problem Statement

Insights into an individual's health history can often provide those critical clues for a medical professional in treating certain ailments. These clues may provide new solutions or they may point out that the tried and true may be the best option for making a patient more comfortable. These rules apply even when the ailment is an incurable syndrome like Restless Legs Syndrome.

The fact is, certain measures can and often do reduce certain adverse symptoms. The reduction of these symptoms may in turn make a patient's situation bearable. Both the patients who are suffering from the likes of Restless Legs Syndrome and the treating attendants and nurses should have the necessary insights that could be utilized to enhance a patient's recovery process. Those individuals who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome may be greatly helped if the nursing community establishes viable remedies for the syndrome and its annoying symptoms that can be utilized by the nursing community.

Restless Legs Syndrome has been described as an irresistible urge for an individual to move his or her legs as they are quietly lying in bed preparing for a night of sleep. Restless Legs Syndrome as idiopathic and is currently incurable. The syndrome is an aggravating sleep disorder occurring in adults and is especially difficult for the elderly. This research aims to prove that going back to the basics can enhance the quality of the patient's life by reducing symptoms of the condition.

Historical observations by the medical community show that restoring the basic health requirements of Restless Legs Syndrome suffers should be of the utmost importance so as to enhance the recovery process. Simple solutions such as daily exercise, vitamin consumption, social interaction and reducing stress levels by abstaining from substances such as caffeine and tobacco are a cost efficient methodology and have actually been confirmed to alleviate some of the Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms. The basic nutritional requirements are also often not being met by Restless Legs Syndrome patients so adding a balanced diet that takes into consideration caffeine and sugars coupled with a regular exercise regime of mild to moderate exercise also reduce Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms. "Although conventional treatments have not been successful in controlling the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome, many patients have reported the use of complementary and alternative practices and products (CAPPs). These include nutritional supplements to correct deficiencies including multivitamins, electrolytes, folate, vitamin E, and magnesium. Oral administration of iron supplements generally corrects iron deficiency and reduces Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms." (Cuellar)


This research's intention will be to gather, document and review raw data gathered from known Restless Legs Syndrome suffers in a hospital or a nursing home setting through the use of questionnaires and professional nurse observations in an attempt to present viable yet simple solutions to give support to the nursing community when dealing with patients who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome and its related risk factors. The purpose of the research will focus on the following attributes:

Clearly describe a patient's clinical issues (i.e., iron deficient)

Encourage and support a systematic measurement of the patient's health status

Provide a precise assessment of viable symptom relief options

Provide clinical rationale in future decision making

Create a guide for symptom related clinical problem solving and assessments


Hypothesis 1: The nursing community can greatly reduce a patient's Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms and complaints by systematically integrating a natural health promoting behavior recovery plan (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine reduction programs, exercise, nutrition, social support, and stress management) into the patient's daily regiment.

Hypothesis 2: Nurses and patients perceive the quality of care as being higher when the nurse has a viable solution to certain symptom related issues or problems.

Theoretical Framework

When the nursing staff assists with a behavioral remedy for a patient's symptoms, the concept is that both the patient and the nurse should note how that particular solution helped. For example, certain holistic remedies like a massage may help the patient reduce the amount of time needed to walk away symptoms later in the evening. "Massaging the legs before going to bed can quiet restless legs for some. A warm bath before bed helps others. Forgoing caffeine and alcohol often diminishes restless leg discomfort." (Donohue MD, Paul, 2000)

The study should focus on the perceptions of the patients themselves and how they respond to the questionnaires and the nursing observation team and the assumed degree of agreement between the two points-of-view. The study should consist of a minimum of 100 nurse/patient pairs who can be divided evenly in male and female nurse and male and female patient scenarios. Approximately half of this minimum 100 nurse/patient pairs will act as a control group.

Once accepted, the nursing participants must fulfill an obligation for answering the specific Restless Legs Syndrome care related questions preferably halfway through the work shift. The questionnaires will ask the nurses to rate the assigned patient's comfort level and detailed questions regarding the Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms. The patients will be required to answer similar questions concerning their comfort levels and additional questions about how the Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms affected them throughout certain time periods.

The questionnaires will require the participants spend approximately 10 to 20 minutes filling in the answers. It is not required that both nurse and patient fill out the questionnaires at the same time. Strict confidentiality must be maintained so a single data gathering team will circulate to retrieve the information and will certify that the confidential information on each form is identified via an identification code other than social security number and/or name. Statistical analysis of the data will be viewed as a complete sample.

Literature Review

Research confirms that there are conflicting reasons for getting Restless Legs Syndrome. Some specialists feel that the syndrome is a neurological disorder and some are undecided and therefore stick with the idiopathic designation. No matte what the cause, all research concurs that the syndrome's symptoms are unpleasant sensations in the legs combined with uncontrollable urges to move while at rest or attempting to relieve the unpleasant sensations. "Restless Legs Syndrome sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs - often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful." (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2003)

Estimates for the amount of individuals who may suffer with the syndrome range as high as 12 million Americans but some estimate even higher occurrences due to the fact that it is a syndrome that may go highly under or undiagnosed. "With lack of sleep causing a $l00 billion annual loss of productivity, sick leave, medical expenses and property damage, Lindner writes in the column "Eating Right" in the Washington Post, one contributing illness is "restless leg syndrome." (Unknown, 2000)

Often physicians attribute the symptoms to other issues such as nervousness, insomnia,…

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