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Can Babies Have Restless Leg Syndrome

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Compresses Can Be Soothing

Restless Leg Syndrome: Triggers, Home Remedies and Treatment | Andy Berkowski, MD

Heated or cooled pads, often used to relieve swelling caused by injuries and other conditions, have a long history as a home remedy. Dr. Vensel-Rundo says they can be effective by creating a new sensation for the brain to process, reducing the uncomfortable sensation produced by restless legs syndrome.

You can buy an inexpensive cold or warm compress at a store, but the simplest way to make one is to soak fabric in cold or warm water and place it against your skin.

Restless Legs Treatment Strategies

There is currently no cure for restless legs syndrome, and symptoms tend to get worse with age. But if you, your child, or another family member is diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, there are some treatment options that can help make you more comfortable. They include:

  • Identifying the underlying cause. In some people with restless legs syndrome, the cause of the condition, such as peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, or anemia, can be identified. In these cases, treating the underlying condition can relieve symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
  • Making certain lifestyle changes. Taking steps such as limiting the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; taking iron, folate, and perhaps magnesium supplements; adjusting your sleep schedule; exercising moderately; and therapies such as soaking in a hot bath, icing the legs, or having a leg massage may help relieve or reduce restless leg symptoms.
  • Trying medications. Certain medications, such as dopaminergic drugs, benzodiazepines, or opioids, have been shown to help reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome in some people.

Researchers are still working to determine how genes may play a part in your risk for developing restless legs syndrome, with the hope that future discoveries will help prevent it or lead to better treatment strategies.

Mayo Clinic Finds Restless Legs Syndrome In Children Linked To Family History Iron Deficiency

Mayo Clinic
A new Mayo Clinic study has for the first time established rates of restless legs syndrome in children, finding that almost 6 percent of children seen in Mayo’s sleep clinic have the disease. The study, published in this month’s issue of Annals of Neurology, also notes that the most common risk factors for the disease in kids are family history of restless legs syndrome and iron deficiency.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A new Mayo Clinic study has for the first time established rates of restless legs syndrome in children, finding that almost 6 percent of children seen in Mayo’s sleep clinic have the disease. The study, published in this month’s issue of Annals of Neurology, also notes that the most common risk factors for the disease in kids are family history of restless legs syndrome and iron deficiency.

“Restless legs syndrome is underdiagnosed in kids,” says Suresh Kotagal, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic pediatric neurology and a sleep specialist. “If you look at children with difficulty falling asleep, you’ll see a fair number have restless legs. Thus far, there have been sporadic case reports, but nobody has studied a larger group of children, looking at children with insomnia complaints as a whole to see how many had restless legs syndrome.”

Dr. Kotagal and his colleague Michael Silber, M.B.Ch.B., Mayo Clinic neurologist and sleep specialist, indicate that restless legs syndrome may account for some of the age-old notion of “growing pains.”

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Foods To Avoid With Restless Leg Syndrome

These foods arent great for any pregnant mama, but they can also worsen RLS symptoms.

  • Caffeine: This stimulant can worsen restless leg syndrome symptoms.
  • Refined sugar: Sugar depletes minerals in the body, especially magnesium. Without adequate nutrients, muscles and nerves cant function properly which can contribute to RLS.

If symptoms are severe, strategically consuming;calcium can also help. Too much calcium can block iron absorption , so its best to avoid eating calcium and iron rich foods together.

What Are The Possible Causes Of Restless Arms

Handling Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

The real reason is not known, as well as, its pathophysiology. It is believed that irregular hyperexcitability at the entire spinal cord or at certain parts of the cervical and lumbar part of the spine lead to sporadic arm and leg movements. ;

Other findings support that dopaminergic activity and central involvement can lead to restless arm.

An iron deficiency or iron absorption problems can lead to the onset of restless arm. When it comes to iron deficiency it is believed that it impairs the synthesis of dopamine, the binding affinity of dopamine receptors or the transportation of dopamine. However, until now no neurological impairments have been identified in the development of restless arm.

Triggering Factors

Certain factors can trigger restless arms syndrome such as:

  • Sleep deprivation,;making;the restless syndrome worse or triggering;it
  • Chronic alcoholic consumption
  • Using certain medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, anti-allergic medications, anti-emetic medications, etc.
  • Pregnancy, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy

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Surgery For Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels, often in the legs, that overfill with blood. This increased amount of blood can lead to superficial venous insufficiency , which means your body cant properly circulate blood. As a result, the blood pools in your legs.

In a 2008 study, 35 people with SVI and RLS had a procedure called endovenous laser ablation to treat their varicose veins. Of the 35 people, 84 percent of them had their RLS symptoms significantly improved or completely eliminated by the surgery .

Again, more research is needed on this surgery as a treatment for RLS.


If youre interested in any of these less-researched treatments, ask your doctor about them. Of course, you can try hot and cold treatments on your own, but your doctor can tell you more about the other treatments and whether they might be able to help you.

Sleep Doctors Get Restless Leg Syndrome Too

When I was a kid, my parents used to avoid giving me Coca-Cola after lunch. Not because they were overly concerned about my health. . ;The reason was that I would have really severe problems falling asleep about a quarter of the time. I would feel like I had too much energy in my legs and I would be unable to get comfortable. It was not painful, exactly, and it would go away if I got up to go to the bathroom, but come back again when I laid down again. I had one episode in college resulting in an entirely sleepless night and actually gave up caffeine for eight years, until my third year of medical school.

Fast forward to the library at Harvard in 2010 where I was reviewing for my sleep medicine boards, where I read that children with;restless leg syndrome ) may complain of too much energy in their legs. I realized that I have had intermittent episodes of restless leg since childhood.

Obviously I had heard of the diagnosis before, and even diagnosed patients with it, but I had never heard that description before.

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Symptoms Of Restless Arm Syndrome

Restless arm syndrome is a spectrum disease, meaning that the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in both severity and frequency. Symptoms range from mild to unbearable and from occasionally to daily. Symptoms may include:

  • Involuntary Arm Movements:;People tend to experience sudden, jerky, uncontrollable movements in the arms, and in some case other body parts as well, most commonly the legs
  • Odd Sensations:;People with restless arm syndrome often report feeling strange sensations in their arms such as tingling, burning, numbness, tickly, buzzing or itching sensation or like a creepy crawly crawling over you. The strange sensations associated with restless limbs can also give you a strong urge to want to move
  • Daily Pattern:;Symptoms of restless limbs tend to be worse in the evenings and overnight or when resting or relaxing. As a result, sleep is often affected. Some people get symptoms throughout the day, but they tend to be least in the mornings

Weighted Blankets Can Reduce Prickly Feeling And Anxiety

How can I relieve restless leg syndrome during pregnancy?

A weighted blanket can offer a constant but gentle counterstimulation to override the feeling of restless legs.

Theres one more reason to suspect weighted blankets might help, Dr. Vensel-Rundo says.

Some research suggests restless legs may be connected with anxiety. So, if it helps you relieve anxiety, a weighted blanket may also help with your restless legs.

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Providing Iron Treatment For Paediatric Rls

For iron deficiency, even without anemia, treatment is straightforward , regardless of RLS presence. For RLS without systemic iron deficiency, the appropriate dose is currently unknown. One might try the dose and duration reported to benefit PLMS and then recheck ferritin ; some specialists might prescribe 5 mg to 6 mg elemental iron/kg/day. To enhance absorption, iron should ideally be taken in the morning on an empty stomach with a source of vitamin C such as orange juice. Food may decrease iron absorption for 2 h. Gastrointestinal discomfort may result when the stomach is empty, and might be alleviated by three times daily dosing, administration with food or dosage reduction. It is not known when to discontinue treatment if there is no response, nor how long to treat if there is symptom response. In the case of apparent treatment success, one might try discontinuing iron after three months while monitoring for relapse. Children need monitoring over time for symptom recurrence.

Restless Sleep In Seniors

Many of the factors that cause restless sleep in adults apply to the elderly who face additional challenges as well. Older adults spend more time in lighter stages of sleep, making it easier for them to be disrupted and making their sleep feel less restorative.

The circadian rhythm of seniors often shifts forward and may lead to waking up earlier than desired in the morning. This can occur naturally and because of greater difficulty in getting sufficient daylight exposure, especially for people in managed care facilities.

Many older people have multiple physical and mental health issues and take a greater number of prescription medications, all of which may contribute to restless sleep.

The confluence of these issues make sleeping problems widespread among older adults, but steps to address underlying conditions and improve sleep hygiene can enable better sleep. Precautions to prevent falls are another component of caring for older adults with restless sleep who may be groggy or disoriented when getting out of bed during the night or in the morning.

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What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome

The exact cause of restless legs syndrome varies from child to child. In some cases, the cause is not known. In other children, RLS can be related to a low iron level or sometimes is associated with diabetes, kidney or some neurological diseases. RLS sometimes runs in families and there is thought to be a genetic link in these cases. Many different types of drugs including those used to treat depression, allergies, and psychiatric disorders may cause RLS as a side effect.

How Do You Diagnosis And Treat Restless Leg Syndrome In Children

Restless Leg Syndrome an Indicator for Poor Sleep

RLS is by its very nature a subjective sensation. There is no test for the disorder. A careful history and physical examination by a physician is usually all that is necessary.

  • Although further diagnostic testing may not be necessary, a serum iron test, specifically ferritin;is important as iron therapy to increase the levels of ferritin over 50;g/L may resolve or improve symptoms.;
  • An overnight sleep study is not necessary for the diagnosis. It may, however, show the presence of periodic limb movements of sleep, which are rhythmic leg twitches which occur commonly in RLS and may disrupt sleep.
  • RLS may be more common in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • It is critical to enforce appropriate sleep hygiene and age appropriate bedtimes in children with RLS to ensure an age appropriate amount of sleep.
  • Treatment for children with more severe sleep disruption frequently includes medication, especially if iron therapy is not effective. ;In most children I prefer starting with melatonin, clonidine or gabapentin. Other medications which may be used include lorazepam, clonazepam, ropinirole, or pramipexole.;Equally important is avoidance of caffeine or medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which may worsen this disorder.

Clearly, the assessment and management of this disorder is complex and should be made by a physician experienced in caring for;kids with sleep problems.

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When To Talk To A Doctor

If restless sleep is frequent, persistent, or worsening, it may be a sign of a bigger issue and should be discussed with your doctor. Similarly, signs of excessive daytime sleepiness or other daytime impairment should always be raised with your doctor who can help to identify the most likely cause and most appropriate steps for treatment.

What Is The Treatment For Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy

Medication isnt generally recommended during pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding. But there are other things you can try. You may not be able to stop the symptoms completely, but you may be able to reduce them.

As well as reducing your caffeine intake and not drinking alcohol, you can try:

  • stopping smoking
  • doing moderate, regular exercise
  • walking and stretching your legs
  • relaxation exercises
  • using heat pads on the legs, or having a hot bath
  • using distraction techniques, such as reading
  • massaging the legs.

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Monitoring For Iron Overload

When prescribing iron for paediatric RLS, its safety in the absence of systemic iron deficiency necessitates caution. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a disorder of iron metabolism in which excessive intestinal iron absorption leads to damaging iron deposition in multiple organs. Other genetic disorders of iron homeostasis, although rare, exist. Iron intake should not usually constitute a risk for iron overload in otherwise healthy people who are iron-replete, because at higher ferritin concentrations, iron absorption usually decreases, preventing accumulation in the body above upper physiological limits . Screening for iron overload includes a personal and family history of hemochromatosis or unexplained liver disease, and measuring transferrin saturation and ferritin levels at baseline and at least twice yearly while on iron. Transferrin saturation >50% and/or ferritin levels >90th percentile are highly indicative of hemochromatosis in children . The upper ferritin cut-off quoted by the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is: six months to 14 years of age: >140 g/L; 15 years of age: male >250 g/L, female >120 g/L .

How Can I Get A Good Night’s Sleep Despite Restless Legs Syndrome

Mayo Clinic Minute: Restless legs syndrome in kids

Experts agree that simply changing your behavior can often help you sleep if you have restless legs syndrome. For people with mild to moderate RLS, these steps can reduce or prevent symptoms:

  • Cut down on caffeine.
  • Stop smoking, or at least cut back.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.
  • Exercise regularly, but moderately .
  • Apply heat or ice, or soak in a hot bath.

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How To Help Your Baby Fall To Sleep

  • Establishing a routine at bedtime is a good idea.
  • Be sure that the baby does not fall asleep while eating or in your arms. This may become a pattern and the baby may begin to expect to be in your arms in order to fall asleep. When the baby briefly awakens during a sleep cycle, he or she may not be able to go back to sleep on his or her own.
  • Most experts recommend allowing a baby to become sleepy in your arms, then placing him or her in the bed while still awake. This way the baby learns how to go to sleep on his own.
  • Playing soft music while your baby is getting sleepy is also a good way to help establish a bedtime routine.

How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Treated

Treatment options for RLS can include any of the following:

The non-drug treatments listed above are usually tried first.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2020.


  • Mindell, JA and Owens, JA. A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2003. Accessed 1/10/2020.
  • National Sleep Foundation. Accessed 1/10/2020.Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosis.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. Accessed 1/10/2020. Understanding RLS.

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Home Remedies For Rls During Pregnancy

Here are a few simple home remedies that can be used to relieve discomfort during RLS.

  • Massage your legs: If you wake up to RLS or experience the symptoms, you can massage your legs or ask your partner to massage your legs to relieve the pain. Using pain-relieving massage oils may also be beneficial.
  • Temperature changes: When you start having symptoms, use a hot compress or an ice pack to relieve the pain. You can also dip your legs in warm water in the bath.
  • Soak your feet: Dissolve some Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet in it for 30 minutes. Post this, dry your feet and rub a thin layer of Vicks Vaporub on the feet.
  • Eat bananas: Bananas are potassium-rich and help send nerve impulses and contract your muscles. Pregnant women are advised to include bananas in their diet.
  • Take supplements: With proper consultation with your doctor, you can start taking calcium, iron or magnesium supplements to relieve RLS.
  • Relaxation techniques: Try relaxation techniques like flexing your muscles before sleep. Stretch your legs or flex your ankles immediately if you experience symptoms. You can also practice meditation to calm your mind before you go to sleep.

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