Replace The Urge To Move
When your legs are tingling, throbbing or hurting, it can be difficult for the brain to focus on anything else. One way to break the cycle is to replace the urge to move with another sensation.
Any kind of counterstimulation, like taking a bath or shower in the evening, can be helpful, Dr. Vensel-Rundo says. Even rubbing or massaging the legs can provide temporary relief.
Light stretching can help, but rigorous exercise before bed isnt a good idea, she says.
What Are Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome
The primary symptom of restless legs syndrome is a sensation of discomfort in the legs that is often difficult to describe. The feeling is different from leg cramps or numbness from circulation problems. Patients have used the following words to describe this sensation:
Usually this feeling is paired with the urge to move your legs. The desire usually worsens when you lie down or rest.
The symptoms of restless legs syndrome are frequently worse in the evening and at night than in the morning.
A related problem is that your leg muscles might tighten or flex while you are still. These movements can be out of your control. In extreme cases, they may be periodic limb movements.
Diagnosis Of Plmd And Rls
For restless legs syndrome, a doctor’s evaluation
For periodic limb movement disorder, polysomnography
For either disorder, tests to check for a cause
Doctors can often diagnose restless legs syndrome based on symptoms reported by the person or the personâs bed partner. Doctors may suspect periodic limb movement disorder based on symptoms, such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and/or excessive twitching just before going to sleep or during sleep.
Polysomnography, including electromyography , is always done to diagnose periodic limb movement disorder. These tests are done overnight in a sleep laboratory and are not done at home. In polysomnography, brain activity, heart rate, breathing, muscle activity, and eye movements are monitored while people sleep. People may also be videotaped during an entire night’s sleep to document limb movements. These tests may also be done after restless legs syndrome is diagnosed to determine whether people also have periodic limb movement disorder.
If either disorder is diagnosed, blood and urine tests are done to check for disorders that can contribute, such as anemia, iron deficiency, and kidney and liver disorders.
Articles On Restless Legs Syndrome
In some cases, personal habits can make a sleeping disorder like restless legs syndrome worse. Sometimes they play a big role in the problem.
Here are 10 steps you can take to lessen the symptoms of RLS and get you sleeping better:
- Avoid or limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine for at least several hours before bedtime.
- Review all the medications you take with your doctor.
- Exercise every day.
What Are The Best Home Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome
The most common home remedies that are sure to work for this disease involve:
- Taking warm baths and having massages to help reduce the symptoms and discomforts
- Exercising to relieve the symptoms. Patients are advised to walk or indulge in some sports to help them feel better.
- Reducing stress by practicing meditation or tai chi.
Treatment Of Plmd And Rls
Changes in the diet
Drugs used to treat Parkinson disease and other drugs
Avoiding caffeine, which can make symptoms worse, is recommended. If people are deficient in iron, the primary treatment is iron supplements.
The same drugs are used to treat periodic limb movement disorder and restless legs syndrome. These drugs include
Drugs typically used to treat Parkinson disease:Pramipexole, ropinirole, or rotigotine may help. These drugs imitate the actions of dopamineâa chemical that transmits messages from nerve cells to other cells . They increase nerve impulses to muscles. Sometimes these drugs cause symptoms to worsen. They can also cause nausea, an excessive decrease in blood pressure when a person stands , compulsive behaviors, and insomnia.
Antiseizure drugs: An antiseizure drug that is also used to treat pain is effective in some people. These drugs include gabapentin or pregabalin.
Opioids: An opioid such as oxycodone may be used. However, doctors use them cautiously because they can have serious side effects, including the possibility of addiction.
Gabapentin enacarbil is the main treatment for people with periodic limb movement disorder or restless leg syndrome. This drug relieves symptoms of restless legs syndrome and does not cause symptoms to worsen.
The 11 Best Treatments For Restless Legs Syndrome
What is restless legs syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome , also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes uncomfortable sensations, most often in the legs. These sensations have been described as tingly, crawling, creeping feelings, and cause the overwhelming urge to move the affected limb.
RLS symptoms typically occur when the person is sitting, resting, or sleeping, and often happen at night. The movements caused by RLS are called periodic limb movements of sleep . Because of these movements, RLS can cause serious sleep problems.
For most people with RLS, symptoms are mild. But if your symptoms are moderate to severe, RLS can have a big impact on your life. It can prevent you from sleeping enough, and thus cause problems with daytime focus and thinking, your job, and your social activities.
As a result of these problems, RLS can lead to anxiety and depression. And the longer you have the condition, the worse it can get. It can even spread to other parts of your body, such as your arms .
Here we list the best treatments for RLS. Some of these you can try on your own. Others you can discuss with your doctor, who can help you create a treatment plan to help relieve your RLS symptoms.
Nighttime And Sleep Tips To Ease Restless Legs Syndrome
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
Although the cause of RLS in most cases is unknown, sometimes there are ties to other medical conditions such as iron deficiency, neuropathy, late-stage kidney disease, Parkinsons disease and multiple sclerosis.
One part of the brain that controls movement, called the basal ganglia, uses the brain chemical dopamine which is needed for intentional and smooth control of muscle activity. Involuntary movements are often the result of disruption of these dopamine pathways. There is notable evidence suggesting a dysfunction in the basal ganglia using these pathways in people with RLS. People with Parkinsons disease, another disorder affected by disrupted dopamine pathways are at increased risk of RLS.
There are also certain habits and some medications that can negatively impact RLS symptoms and the ability to go to sleep. Medications that may aggravate RLS symptoms include:
- anti-nausea drugs, including prochlorperazine and metoclopramide
- anti-psychotic drugs, such as haloperidol and phenothiazine derivatives
- anti-depressants that increase serotonin including fluoxetine and sertraline
- cold and allergy medications, such as diphenhydramine
Habits that may trigger or aggravate RLS symptoms can include:
- pregnancy the last trimester especially
- sleep deprivation or sleep apnea treating these conditions may relieve RLS symptoms
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Rls
Leg discomfort combined with strong urge to move. Uncomfortable sensations deep within the legs, accompanied by a strong, often irresistible urge to move them.
Rest triggers the symptoms. The uncomfortable leg sensations start or become worse when youre sitting, lying down, or trying to relax.
Symptoms get worse at night. RLS typically flares up at night. In more severe cases, the symptoms may begin earlier in the day, but they become much more intense at bedtime.
Symptoms improve when you walk or move your legs. The relief continues as long as you keep moving.
Leg twitching or kicking while sleeping. Many people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder , which involves repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep.
The symptoms of RLS can range from mildly annoying to severely disabling. You may experience the symptoms only once in a while, such as times of high stress, or they may plague you every night. In severe cases of RLS, you may experience symptoms in your arms as well as your legs.
Medical Devices For Restless Legs Syndrome
New attention is being given to the possibility of using medical devices to improve RLS symptoms. Similar to the way that moving the legs gives temporary relief, these medical devices aim to reduce discomfort of RLS symptoms by providing external stimulation.
So far, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two medical devices as RLS treatments: a compression foot wrap and a vibrating pad. Both are available by prescription and designed for people with moderate to severe RLS.
The foot wrap works by applying targeted pressure to the affected area, usually the lower leg or foot. By contrast, the vibrating pad uses counter-stimulation to mask RLS symptoms and improve sleep quality. Both devices are considered fairly safe, though they may not be suitable for people with certain underlying health conditions.
Some physicians also recommend using a pneumatic compression device to ease RLS symptoms. Its thought that compression of the veins helps boost circulation and reduce the uncomfortable sensations caused by RLS.
Can Restless Leg Syndrome Be Prevented Or Avoided
RLS cant be prevented because doctors arent sure what causes it. But there are some things you can do to help lessen your symptoms.
Lifestyle changes to treat RLS:
- For mild symptoms, use an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce twitching and restless sensations.
- Cut back on alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
- Try taking a hot bath and massaging your legs before bedtime to help you relax.
- Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help you relax before bed.
- Apply warm or cool packs to your legs, which can help relieve sensations.
- Try to distract your mind by reading or doing a crossword puzzle while you wait for sleep to come.
- Moderate exercise may help, but dont overdo it. Exercising vigorously or late in the day may make symptoms worse.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Also try to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night.
How To Get Relief At Home
Theres a lot you can do to help relieve the pain and achiness you may be experiencing.
- Lose weight if you need to. Obesity can lead to varicose veins as well as diabetes and a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, blocking blood flow.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for several conditions that cause heavy legs.
- Take days off from intense exercise.
- Elevate your legs about 6 to 12 inches above the level of your heart. This helps blood thats pooled in your legs to drain out to the rest of your body. Massaging your leg is an added bonus.
- Wear compression stockings to help promote blood flow.
- Be active. An effective way to control weight, lower cholesterol, and improve circulation is by being active. Youll need to cater your workout routine to your fitness level and be sure to get guidance from your doctor.
Restless Legs Syndrome Medication
Medication is currently considered the gold standard for people with moderate to severe RLS. To reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects, always work with a doctor to find the medication thats right for you.
People with RLS resulting from another condition, or those with another consideration such as pregnant women, children, people with anxiety or depression, or individuals with kidney disease, may need to exercise extra caution when taking medication.
RLS can be treated with several different families of medications, the most common being dopamine agonists and anti-seizure drugs.
Using Cbd Oil To Treat Restless Leg Syndrome
In addition to THC, using CBD for restless legs is also effective. CBD, or cannabidiol, is another compound found in marijuana. It does not produce as much intoxication as THC and it has several positive benefits for the body.
CBD interacts with pain receptors in the brain to reduce the amount of pain felt within the body. This makes it ideal for relieving headaches, back pain, and pain caused by injury and trauma.
Users can obtain CBD through smoking or vaping cannabis, but it can also be extracted and isolated in the form of CBD oil. Medical marijuana users are turning to CBD oil for restless leg syndrome, mainly because they want to stay away from the intoxicating effects of cannabis. For this reason, cannabis growers are breeding strains of cannabis that have a higher CBD content and limited psychoactive effects.
Treatment Options For Restless Legs Syndrome
RLS is a condition that affects many adults, and it can be difficult to get enough sleep without medication. There are several factors you should consider when trying to treat RLS with lifestyle changes first before reaching for the prescription pad. First of all, try taking iron supplements or magnesium as they have been shown in studies help improve symptoms by increasing dopamine levels within your brain which provides relief from RLS sensations like creeping feelings on the body and getting worse at night time. Another alternative treatment option worth considering would be some anti-seizure medications such as Gabapentin enacarbil because this drug has also been found effective against treating both neuropathic pain conditions including fibromyalgia along with restless leg syndrome.
Could Rls Be Linked To Anything Else
Restless legs syndrome is considered both a sleep and movement disorder. But at its root, it is a neurological disorder, with symptoms originating in the brain. Dr. Lee-Iannotti stated, we have found RLS to be related to low production of dopamine, a powerful chemical affecting motor skills and many other functions of your brain. This gives us reason to believe that RLS may be linked to Parkinsons Disease, a degenerative condition that can cause tremors and other motor impairments.
How Is Periodic Limb Movement Disorder Different From Rls
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. If you have PLMS, or sleep with someone who has PLMS , you may recognize these movements as brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet. They cluster into episodes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
Hot And Cold Treatments
While theres not a lot of research backing up using heat and cold to relieve RLS symptoms, many healthcare organizations recommend it. They include the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation .
These organizations suggest taking a hot or cold bath before going to bed, or applying hot or cold packs to your legs .
Some peoples RLS symptoms are aggravated by cold, while others have problems with heat. This could explain the benefits of these hot or cold treatments.
: Consume Less Caffeine Or Alcohol
If youve been here for a while, then you already know that alcohol consumption and nicotine use can lead to restless legs syndrome or worsen existing symptoms. Caffeine is also an RLS risk factor as it keeps us awake at night.
Modifiable lifestyle factors such as caffeine, tobacco products like cigarettes and chewing gum may result in sleeping disorders including circadian rhythm abnormalities which often leads to short sleep duration .
For those who are concerned about their risk of developing RLS, there is good news. A study has shown that people who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight have a lower chance on getting Restless Leg Syndrome . In fact, the more lifestyle choices someone makes which are considered to be healthy, like exercising or drinking alcohol in moderation; the less likely they will get RLS.
Restless Legs Syndrome Triggers
Sitting or resting are common triggers for RLS symptoms. Additionally, some substances can make symptoms worse. These include:
- Medications, including certain drugs used to treat nausea, colds and allergies, and mental health conditions
Incidentally, most of these substances when taken in excess or too close to bedtime can also adversely affect our sleep architecture.
Check Your Medicine Cabinet
There are many common medicationsboth prescription and over-the-counterthat can trigger the symptoms of RLS or make them worse. Medications to watch out for include:
- Cold and allergy medications containing antihistamines .
- Anti-nausea medications .
- Calcium channel blockers .
- Antidepressants .
- Antipsychotics .
Get checked for iron and vitamin deficiencies
A number of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are linked to restless legs syndrome.
Iron. Iron deficiency is a well-known cause of RLS, so ask your doctor to test you for anemia. However, supplementing with iron can also improve RLS symptoms in those who arent anemic.
Magnesium. Magnesium can improve sleep and some studies have shown it to be beneficial for restless legs. Try experimenting with a magnesium supplement at bedtime to see if your symptoms improve.
Vitamin D. Recent studies show that RLS symptoms are more frequent and more severe in people with vitamin D deficiency. Your doctor can easily test your vitamin D levels or you can simply make it a point to get out more in the sun.
Folate . Folate deficiency has been linked to RLS, which may explain why restless legs are so common in pregnant women . When folic acid is low, B12 is often low as well, so you may want to try supplementing with a B-complex vitamin.
How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosed
Since there is no specific test for RLS, the condition is diagnosed by a doctors evaluation. The five basic criteria for clinically diagnosing the disorder are:
- A strong and often overwhelming need or urge to move the legs that is often associated with abnormal, unpleasant, or uncomfortable sensations.
- The urge to move the legs starts or get worse during rest or inactivity.
- The urge to move the legs is at least temporarily and partially or totally relieved by movements.
- The urge to move the legs starts or is aggravated in the evening or night.
- The above four features are not due to any other medical or behavioral condition.
Diagnosing RLS in children may be especially difficult, since it may be hard for children to describe what they are experiencing, when and how often the symptoms occur, and how long symptoms last. Pediatric RLS can sometimes be misdiagnosed as “growing pains” or attention deficit disorder.
Tips On How To Stop Restless Legs Syndrome Naturally
Restless legs syndrome , thought to be a neurological disorder, is exactly what it sounds like. The condition gives sufferers an irresistible urge to move their legs. Sometimes RLS feels like there is something crawling on the legs. It may feel like pulling, throbbing or itching. The disorder can cause deep aches, too. And especially unlucky RLS sufferers may feel these symptoms all over their body.
Because RLS is relieved by moving the affected limbs, it often means sleepless nights, uncomfortable plane rides, and miserable days at the office.
Scientists arent sure what causes RLS. Its believed to be genetic, and is often found in families where the onset of symptoms is before age 40. Research suggests that RLS is related to a dysfunction in the brains basal ganglia that use the neurotransmitter dopamine. RLS is commonly found in patients with Parkinsons disease, which is another disorder of the basal ganglias dopamine pathways.
Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and peripheral neuropathy are associated with RLS. Some medications have also been found to aggravate restless legs syndrome; antipsychotics, anti-nausea drugs, and cold and allergy medications are big offenders. Pregnancy also seems to trigger RLS, particularly in the last trimester.
What Does Restless Legs Syndrome Feel Like
Restless legs syndrome feels a little different for every person, said Dr. Lee-Iannotti. But most describe a tingling or the sensation of ants crawling on their legs. For some it can feel like pins and needles. In some cases, the feeling may progress beyond simple sensations to be painful.
Dr. Lee-Iannotti commented that as much as 10% of the U.S. could be suffering from RLS, however the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed. Even more often, patients never bring the issues to their doctors attention. RLS tends to develop slowly, over decades. However, if left untreated the symptoms can become severe. In advanced cases, nights become extremely stressful and symptoms can persist throughout the day, spreading from the legs to other extremities.
How Is Rls Treated
Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and enabling sound sleep. The health care provider may recommend self-help treatment and medicines. Often, a combination of self-help and medicines works well. Some drugs work better than others, so trying different ones to find the best treatment may be needed. Avoiding caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol may be helpful.
If symptoms are severe and treatment does not work, a visit to a specialist in sleep disorders or a neurologist may be needed. A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the nervous system.
Lifestyle Tips To Ease Restless Legs Syndrome
How To Ease Restless Legs Syndrome And Get Some Sleep
If you go to bed sleepy, only to have your legs twitch and itch and tingle keeping you awake, you might have restless legs syndrome. This frustrating condition makes it difficult to fall asleep because it gets worse at night and after sitting or lying down for a long period of time.
Not only does having this syndrome make it more challenging for you to fall asleep, but it can also disrupt your partnermoving around is what provides relief. If youre struggling with restless legs syndrome we have some ideas to help you improve your sleep, naturally and without medication.
1. Apply heat before bed.
A soak in a warm tub before trying to sleep can help relieve the tingling, aching, or itching sensations this condition causes. Using warm compresses or heating pads to warm the legs can also help provide relief. Conversely, some people find ice packs are better for alleviating the uncomfortable sensations. Use what works for you.
2. Try massage.
Like heat or cold therapy, many people find that a massage of the leg brings relief to the sensations of restless legs syndrome. If you have a partner willing to help you out, make a massage a nightly ritual. If youre on your own, there are plenty of handheld massage tools available that can help you get to sleep.
3. Get plenty of exercise, but not too late in the day.
4. Practice good sleep hygiene.
5. Treat any digestive issues.
6. Check your iron levels.