What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome, and How Can I Get Rid of It!

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome, and How Can I Get Rid of It!

Do you experience a crawling “pins and needles” sensation in your legs that’s only relieved when you move them? You may have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). 

To give you a better idea of just what RLS is, we’ve compiled information on the symptoms, causes, and treatments. While there is no definitive cure, new research has introduced some methods that provide relief. 

If you’re looking to speak with a doctor today to discuss your symptoms and get relief, give Afzal Clinic a call. We offer multiple treatment options that address restless leg syndrome and related issues.  

Diagnosis Restless legs syndrome, pills and stethoscope.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome or RLS is a nervous system disorder that affects sleep and causes an irresistible impulse to move the legs. RLS sufferers describe it as a creeping or itching sensation that is temporarily relieved by moving or stretching out your legs.

RLS can affect anyone but is more common in women. Those individuals with a family history of restless leg syndrome are more likely to develop it. Pregnancy also increases the likelihood of developing restless leg syndrome, though in most cases it resolves itself after delivery.

There are currently no definitive blood tests to diagnose restless leg syndrome. RLS is generally diagnosed through an interview with your physician to discuss your symptoms.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of restless leg syndrome is the compulsion to move the legs. The urge to move usually comes after resting or sitting for long periods. 

As a result, symptoms may appear. These include twitching, throbbing, or buzzing sensations. You may even feel like you are being poked by a thousand tiny pins and needles.

pins and needles

Typically, these sensations are worse at night. Restless leg syndrome can be mild to severe and may affect sleep.

It is worth noting that the sensation is not the same as getting a charley horse cramp or numbness in the lower extremities. Don’t try to fight the urge to move your legs, which can exacerbate your condition.

Causes

The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown. The research and studies conducted on RLS are inconclusive as to what the underlying cause of the disorder is. In other words, one unified determining factor isn’t definite.

Mayo Clinic sites that it could be “an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine,” which is in charge of muscle movement. 

Heredity also plays a role, and some suggest that there could be a gene factor resulting in RLS. Nearly half of those suffering from restless leg syndrome have a family member who also has the condition.

Some women develop restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. Though in most cases, symptoms disappear about a month postpartum.

If you take medications containing antihistamines, antipsychotics, or antidepressants, be cautious. These medications might aggravate your RLS symptoms.

Some persistent health issues can contribute to the development or worsening of RLS. These include:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Varicose veins 
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Diabetes

If you have an underlying condition related to restless leg syndrome, treating that condition can lessen your RLS symptoms. However, if there are no underlying health issues, lifestyle changes have the best chance of relieving your restless legs.

Treatments

According to The National Sleep Foundation, “98% of patients affected by RLS in a recent study found symptom relief after treating varicose veins in their legs with non-surgical sclerotherapy.” 

In fact, The National Library of Medicine has also reached similar findings. At Afzal Clinic, we can kill two birds with one stone, as it were. We can treat your RLS with Varicose Vein Treatment.

Voodoo doll patient 

Lifestyle Changes

If your symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes relating primarily to sleep and exercise are the best place to start. 

Getting those 8 hours of regularly scheduled sleep can improve your symptoms. A good night’s rest will help you to combat any sleep-deprivation you’ve experienced as a result of RLS.

Regular exercise will improve your overall health as well as bring improved circulation and muscle tone. You may see a lessening of symptoms and an improvement in sleep from keeping up your activity level. 

Other recommended remedies include:

  • Hot baths 
  • Leg massages
  • Heat/ice pads
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco

Studies have shown that lessening or eliminating alcohol and caffeine use can see improvements in your sleep and relief of your restless leg syndrome condition.

Restless Leg Syndrome Meds

It’s important to note again that these medications cannot cure your RLS but can help to relieve symptoms and improve sleep. Medications for restless leg syndrome are usually only prescribed for those who experience moderate to severe symptoms.

Unfortunately for those of you experiencing RLS during pregnancy, prescription drugs are rarely an option. 

Most of the medications doctors prescribe in aiding those with restless leg syndrome are for short-term use. Over the long-term, symptoms can worsen, and a new drug may be needed.

Drugs include:

  • Dopaminergic meds to help increase your brain’s dopamine levels. However, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these can have significant side effects, including potentially developing impulsive behaviors such as gambling or shopping.
  • For severe cases, doctors may prescribe narcotic pain relievers such as oxycodone or codeine. 
  • Antiseizure medications and anticonvulsants may be useful in treating RLS. Plus, there may be fewer side effects overall.
  • Muscle relaxants and sleep aids can be a last resort. These can cause daytime drowsiness, which may be undesirable.

Taking medications to help relieve restless leg syndrome can be difficult. For some sufferers, the medicines may worsen their condition while giving relief to others. You may find that you have to do some trial-and-error testing with your doctor to find the right medication.

As with any medication, be sure you understand the potential side effects before deciding to take them. 

Tired young woman sitting with legs crossed and having headache over white background

Let us help you get relief!

Have you or a loved one been suffering from RLS? Are restless leg syndrome meds and lifestyle changes not giving you the relief you so desire?

If you have answered yes, Afzal Clinic can offer you alternative solutions to aid in treating restless leg syndrome. We have a knowledgeable team of doctors and nurses that are here to help alleviate your restless legs.

We offer the following innovative treatment options:

  • Radio-frequency
  • Echo Sclerotherapy
  • Visual Sclerotherapy
  • Compression
  • Treatment for Varicose Veins

Give us a call today to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments with one of our specialists. Don’t suffer through one more day of restless legs; let us give you the relief you need!

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