Restless leg syndrome, medically called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder characterized by an uncomfortable urge to move the legs, especially when resting or at night. This condition can lead to sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue if left untreated.
Restless leg syndrome affects the quality of life by interfering with normal sleep patterns. However, there are several treatment options available to manage this condition and prevent long-term complications.
Whether it occurs occasionally or frequently, it is important to seek medical help to get the rest you need and improve your overall well-being.
Here are some of the things you need to know about restless leg syndrome:
- It is a common condition. RLS affects about 10% of the population. It is more common in adults than children, and it is more common in women than men.
- The cause of RLS is unknown. However, it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, iron deficiency, and pregnancy.
- The symptoms of RLS can vary. The most common symptom is an irresistible urge to move the legs. The urge to move is often accompanied by unpleasant sensations in the legs, such as creeping, crawling, tingling, or pulling. The symptoms of RLS can be worse in the evening or at night.
- RLS can be a severe condition. RLS can interfere with sleep, leading to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. RLS can also indicate an underlying medical condition, such as anemia or kidney disease.
- There is no cure for RLS. However, some treatments can help to relieve the symptoms. Treatment for RLS may include medications, lifestyle changes, or both.
Now there are many treatment options to choose from. Keep reading to learn about restless leg syndrome treatment, so you can finally say goodbye to sleepless nights!
Hot and Cold Therapy
When you are done with your workout sweating, for the best results, perform one cold treatment when you finish exercising – it'll relieve inflammation thanks to the vasoconstriction process, which means tightening blood vessels.
A more accessible alternative is to treat yourself to a cold therapy pack, which can be placed directly in sore areas. It'll numb nerve endings and allow your leg muscles to rest.
Stretches and Exercise
Mild to moderate restless leg syndrome can be treated with basic exercises. It would be best to exercise when you are feeling up for it during the day because exercise can reduce the symptoms of this condition. Try doing simple aerobic exercises, like walking, biking, or a light jog, as long as it feels comfortable.
Additionally, you can find relief during the day from milder RLS symptoms by doing simple stretches that target your lower limbs, like calves and thighs. If your RLS is severe, it will cause pain when exercising. Also, your doctor should be the person to tell you whether exercising is recommended for you or not.
Although leg massage may not cause RLS, there are other things you can do that may make your symptoms more tolerable. Many people use leg massage to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area around their legs, which for most people will help reduce the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
Many people also find massaging their muscles at night before bedtime an extremely helpful way to unwind and curb anxiety and depression because it makes them feel relaxed and helps them sleep better.
When stress sets in, and you find yourself tossing and turning, try mindfulness in yoga. Instead of letting these symptoms get the better of you, engage in a calming exercise that will put your mind at ease.
Yoga has many benefits for mental and physical health when practiced healthily. By performing these relaxing poses at bedtime, you can help prevent restless leg syndrome from getting worse and make sleep possible again.
If you're experiencing symptoms of restless leg syndrome, transcutaneous electrical stimulation may provide some relief. This overstimulates the nerves and disturbs them from feeling pain and other sensations that cause the discomfort associated with RLS.
Put some adhesive patches on your legs or feet at bedtime, then turn on the electrotherapy unit. Although it's fairly new, TENS has helped some people relieve their restless leg syndrome symptoms without medications.
Many people with poor circulation suffer from the swelling that occurs at night. Some people recommend wearing compression stockings or a foot wrap to reduce swelling during the night.
These products are tight, but not so tight that they cut off circulation to your legs, helping give your body counter-stimuli and alleviating any excess fluid buildup throughout the day.
Recent studies have shown a link between restless leg syndrome and varicose veins. Varicose veins are located in the lower body and occur when patients have faulty valves in their veins, allowing blood to flow backward through the vein. This enlarges and bulges the vein, causing symptoms such as pain.
The problem with varicose veins can be extremely irritating, especially when those pesky legs are restless at night. Fortunately, though, there is some relief in sight! Multiple treatments can help reduce the severity of varicose and spider veins (both are types of venous insufficiency), such as compression stockings, which you can purchase at your local drugstore or medical supply store.
Of course, this treatment comes with a price tag, but it's far cheaper than the other alternative - getting an appointment with your doctor for a surgical treatment like sclerotherapy procedures. This ultrasound-based treatment done by doctors specifically trained to do them requires an inpatient setting and, from my experience, a lengthy recovery time. Talk to your doctor about what's best for you!
Sometimes restless leg syndrome is temporary and can be treated with a few lifestyle changes. Read below to find out how you might benefit from improved health, as this could lessen your symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
Good sleep habits are essential to a healthy body. As someone who suffers from a sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome, it can become difficult to find ways to make your bed enjoyable to relax and recuperate. By utilizing this list of tips provided by qualified healthcare professionals, you should restore the quality of your rest in no time!
- Control your bedroom environment: keep your room dark, appropriate temperature, and quiet.
- Sleep diary: to find patterns in your sleeping habits.
- Establish a bedtime schedule: go to sleep and wake up simultaneously each day.
- Minimize distractions: put your cell phone in another room and turn off the TV.
- Dietary Changes
If you often feel tired, it could be an iron deficiency. Anemia is a condition that causes your body not to produce red blood cells in sufficient numbers, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and feelings of weakness and fatigue. One way to eat iron-rich foods like beef liver or dairy products is by consuming fortified cereal, lentils, and other non-heme mineral varieties.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can worsen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Try to limit or avoid foods that contain caffeine, such as coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and certain medications. Drinking alcohol may seem like a good way to relax before bed, but it makes it more difficult to fall asleep, which could cause restless leg symptoms when you finally get up!
Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a condition in which an individual experiences an uncontrollable urge to move their body because they're experiencing discomfort. It's common to get restless legs syndrome when induced by an underlying medical problem, such as hypertension, pregnancy, or diabetes.
Certain medications can help treat the symptoms with non-pharmacologic techniques, but some may need medication to treat their symptoms. There are multiple types of medications ranging from supplements containing iron to those containing opioids, that you can take for your specific needs in mind, and your doctor can guide you in terms of which is best for you based on the situation.
Restless leg syndrome is a common complaint. Thankfully, iron deficiency causes RLS and can be prevented by oral iron supplements. A simple blood test will show if your iron levels are low, but remember that ferrous sulfate may exacerbate the RLS symptoms if these are caused by anemia or hemoglobin-related issues, so don't take anything without talking to your doctor first!
A medication commonly used in the treatment of epilepsy and spinal injuries, gabapentin enacarbil has recently established itself as a drug that could be effective at easing restless leg symptoms.
Receptor cells on nerve cells located in the lower extremities act as a trigger that sends pain messages to other parts of the nervous system, and they can become hyperactive in certain cases.
Gabapentin enacarbil stimulates these receptor cells, making it extremely important for restless leg patience to talk to their neurologist about whether this new medication may alleviate their symptoms.
As the last defense against restless leg syndrome, benzodiazepines can help you get a restful night's sleep. These medications can cause sleepiness and affect concentration, therefore should be taken just before bedtime.
The most common prescribed benzodiazepines are clonazepam and lorazepam. You and your doctor should review your health history before taking a benzodiazepine, as it may affect other conditions you may have.
Oxycodone and codeine (strong painkillers) help relieve discomfort caused by restless leg syndrome by acting on the brain and spinal cord. These drugs are used for people who have not responded well to other treatments, such as caffeine or lidocaine patches. Codeine is less effective than oxycodone, but side effects like constipation can be countered with water, fiber, and exercise.
How to prevent restless Leg Syndrome?
There is no sure way to prevent restless leg syndrome (RLS), but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Get regular exercise. Exercise can help to improve the symptoms of RLS. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can worsen the symptoms of RLS.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Avoid napping during the day. Napping during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up simultaneously each day, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
- Avoid lying in bed when you can't sleep. If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
- See a doctor if your symptoms are severe. If you are experiencing severe RLS, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Treating RLS Symptoms Safely
Restless leg syndrome is a common health problem; fortunately, several effective treatment options are available. Try one or more of the above suggestions to find relief and see if you can manage it independently.
If you cannot, your doctor may prescribe a medication, such as Clonazepam, to help reduce the urge to move your legs whenever you try to sleep. Converse with your doctor about which course of action would work best for you based on personal factors, such as how severe your RLS is!