What Is Restless Leg Syndrome and How Can It Be Treated?

Do you experience a crawling sensation in your legs that is only relieved by movement? If so, you may have restless leg syndrome (RLS).

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

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What Are the Symptoms of RLS?

The symptoms of restless leg syndrome can be very uncomfortable. Patients report sensations that they describe this as an itchy, prickly, or “creepy-crawly” feeling in the legs. When RLS is caused by varicose veins or venous insufficiency, patients may also suffer from aches, cramps, and fatigue in the legs.
The severity of your symptoms can range from mild to intolerable. Symptoms may come and go but are typically worse in the evening. For some people, symptoms may cause sleep disruption that can significantly impact their quality of life. However, you should not try to fight the urge to move your legs, as it can exacerbate the condition.

What Causes RLS?

The research and studies conducted on RLS have not been able to discover a cause. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that it could be due to “an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine,” which plays a role in muscle movement.
Heredity may also play a role; nearly half of those suffering from restless leg syndrome have a family member who also suffers from the condition.
Some women develop restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. However, in most cases, symptoms disappear about one month after giving birth.
Medications containing antihistamines, antipsychotics, or antidepressants can also aggravate your RLS symptoms.
Some health issues can contribute to the development or worsening of RLS, including:

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

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What Treatments Are Available for RLS?

If you have a health condition that can restless leg syndrome, treating it can reduce your symptoms. However, if there are no underlying health issues, lifestyle changes have the best chance of relieving your restless legs.
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.” The National Library of Medicine has also reached similar conclusions.
At Afzal Clinics, we offer varicose vein treatment, which can help reduce your RLS symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Regular exercise will improve your overall health as well as circulation and muscle tone. You may see a reduction in symptoms as well as an improvement in sleep from keeping up your activity level. Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep can help improve your symptoms as well as helping you combat any sleep deprivation you have experienced as a result of RLS.
Other recommended remedies include:

  • Hot baths 
  • Leg massages
  • Heat or ice packs
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco

Restless Leg Syndrome Medications

It is important to remember that medications cannot cure your RLS, but they can help relieve symptoms and improve sleep. Medications for restless leg syndrome are usually prescribed for those with moderate to severe symptoms. However, if you are experiencing RLS during pregnancy, prescription drugs are not typically recommended.
Most of the medications prescribed for this condition are for short-term use. In the long-term, symptoms may worsen, and a new drug or treatment may be needed.
Some of the drugs prescribed for RLS include:

  • Dopaminergic medications to help increase levels of dopamine in the brain. However, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these medications can have significant side effects, including the potential to develop 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 and are thought to cause fewer side effects.
  • Muscle relaxants and sleep aids may be a last resort. These medications can cause daytime drowsiness, which may be undesirable.

Finding a medication to help relieve restless leg syndrome can be difficult. What works for one patient may not work for another. As with any medication, be sure you understand the potential side effects before deciding to take them.
At Afzal Clinics, we offer the following treatment options:

  • Radiofrequency
  • Echo Sclerotherapy
  • Visual Sclerotherapy
  • Compression
  • Treatment for Varicose Veins

Give us a call today at 612-789-8346 or fill out our online contact form to discuss your symptoms and schedule a consultation.

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