Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment
Thereâs no cure for restless legs syndrome itself, but treatments can help control it so you can get a good nightâs sleep.
If another condition is causing your restless legs, such as an iron deficiency, your doctor will treat it.
Treatment for RLS itself will target your symptoms. If your RLS is mild or moderate, some small changes to your everyday life might help: getting regular exercise following a sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
Other ways to treat RLS without drugs include:
- Leg massages
- Heating pads or ice packs on your legs
- A vibrating pad called Relaxis
Medications help some people. But a drug that eases symptoms in one person may make them worse in another, or a drug that works for a while may stop working.
Drugs to treat RLS include:
- Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain. The FDA has approved pramipexole , ropinirole , and rotigotine for moderate to severe RLS.
- Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative, may help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness.
- Narcotic pain relievers
- Anticonvulsant or antiseizure drugs, such as carbamazepine , gabapentin , gabapentin enacarbil , and pregabalin
Treatment From Your Doctor
If your RLS symptoms are severe, your doctor may be able to help with:
- treatment for underlying medical problems if RLS is caused by an underlying condition, treatment should help to stop it. For example, they may suggest iron supplements if iron deficiency anaemia is causing RLS
- changing your medicines if a certain medicine is causing RLS or making your symptoms worse, they may be able to prescribe something different
- dopamine agonists as its thought that having low levels of dopamine could cause RLS, medications called dopamine agonists may be prescribed, which mimic the actions of dopamine to help reduce symptoms
- painkillers if your RLS causes pain, they may prescribe a mild opiate-based painkiller, such as codeine
- neuropathic medications medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin may be prescribed to help with pain and uncomfortable sensations
- sleep medications these may be prescribed to help you sleep in the short-term
Is Rls More Common In Pd
But what about the other possibility? Do patients with PD have an increased risk of RLS over the general population? Is it the same RLS as the person without PD has, or is it different? These questions have been difficult to answer. Of course, since PD affects about 1.5% of the elderly, and RLS in about 4-10% of the population, there will be some coincidental overlap. In addition to this however, patients with PD can have sensations that feel like RLS when their dose of dopamine medication is wearing off. These sensations are not truly RLS since they do not have the key features of RLS described above and fluctuate with medication timing, but they can be easily confused with RLS by the person with PD.
Studies of people with PD that assess for RLS and compare to a control group are hindered by the fact that the majority of patients with significant PD are under treatment with medications that affect RLS. Over the years, there have been multiple studies investigating whether RLS is more common in PD than in the general population. Different studies come to different conclusions. Studies conducted in which a group of people with PD are directly compared to a group of people without PD typically show that RLS is more common in PD than the general population.
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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 Often Do Symptoms Occur
The frequency of symptoms can vary from person to person. Moderate cases of RLS typically see symptoms occur about once or twice a week, while severe cases may cause symptoms to appear more than two times a week.
Sometimes RLS symptoms may go away for weeks or months at a time before reappearing. This typically happens in the early stages of developing this condition.
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Relieving Restless Legs In The Moment
Sometimes, despite your best self-help efforts, the symptoms of restless legs flare up. The following tips will help you find quick relief:
Diet Recommendations For People With Restless Leg Syndrome
There arent any specific dietary guidelines for people with RLS. But its a good idea to review your diet to make sure youre getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients. Try to cut high-calorie processed foods with little or no nutritional value.
Some people with symptoms of RLS are deficient in particular vitamins and minerals. If thats the case, you can make some changes to your diet or take dietary supplements. It all depends on what your test results show.
If youre deficient in iron, try adding more of these iron-rich foods to your diet:
- dark green leafy vegetables
Those strange sensations in your legs can be uncomfortable or painful. And those symptoms can make it almost impossible to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue are dangerous to your health and well-being.
In addition to working with your doctor to find relief, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of restful sleep:
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Characteristics Of Restless Leg Syndrome
There are certain features of RLS that make it a unique and specific disorder.
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.
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Surgery For Varicose Veins
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.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
PLMD is a similarly related sleep disorder, sometimes called periodic limb movement during sleep . In people with PLMD, the limbs twitch or jerk uncontrollably while sleeping. It is also considered a type of sleeping disorder. The movement may cause the individual to wake up frequently during the night, and this can undermine the quality and length of sleep. It can lead to RLS.
Lifestyle changes and common medications that may help alleviate RLS symptoms include:
- Warm baths and massages: These can relax the muscles and reduce the intensity of symptoms.
- Warm or cool packs: Some people prefer warm, some cold, and others say that alternating hot and cold is helpful.
- Relaxation techniques: Stress can make RLS worse, so exercises such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi may help.
- Exercise using legs more can help alleviate symptoms. If the patient has a sedentary lifestyle, walking instead of driving, taking up a sport, or exercising the legs in a gym can help.
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Dont Let Rls Rob You Of Your Rest
You dont have to live with restless leg syndrome. Our team can help you find the solution youre looking for to relieve your symptoms and improve your health. To learn more about the RLS treatment options we offer and how we can customize a treatment plan for you call our office at 915-260-4602, or use our online form to request an appointment today.
What Are Common Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Legs
People with RLS feel the irresistible urge to move, which is accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in their lower limbs that are unlike normal sensations experienced by people without the disorder. The sensations in their legs are often difficult to define but may be described as aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping. These sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rarely the chest or head. Although the sensations can occur on just one side of the body, they most often affect both sides. They can also alternate between sides. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
Because moving the legs relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent the sensations. They may pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed.
A classic feature of RLS is that the symptoms are worse at night with a distinct symptom-free period in the early morning, allowing for more refreshing sleep at that time. Some people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. They may also note a worsening of symptoms if their sleep is further reduced by events or activity.
People with RLS can sometimes experience remissionsspontaneous improvement over a period of weeks or months before symptoms reappearusually during the early stages of the disorder. In general, however, symptoms become more severe over time.
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What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. The NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
While the direct cause of RLS is often unknown, changes in the brains signaling pathways are likely to contribute to the disease. In particular, researchers suspect that impaired transmission of dopamine signals in the brains basal ganglia may play a role. There is a relationship between genetics and RLS. However, currently there is no genetic testing. NINDS-supported research is ongoing to help discover genetic relationships and to better understand what causes the disease.
The NINDS also supports research on why the use of dopamine agents to treat RLS, Parkinsons disease, and other movement disorders can lead to impulse control disorders, with aims to develop new or improved treatments that avoid this adverse effect.
More information about research on RLS supported by NINDS or other components of the NIH is available through the NIH RePORTER , a searchable database of current and previously funded research, as well as research results such as publications.
Tip : Improve Your Sleep
The symptoms of restless legs syndrome can make it hard to get to sleep. When youre sleep deprived, you not only feel terrible, but youre more vulnerable to stress. Stress and fatigue can worsen RLS, making it a vicious cycle, so doing what it takes to get enough sleep is crucial.
Try sleeping with a pillow between your legs. It may prevent nerves in your legs from compressing and result in fewer nighttime RLS symptoms.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your bodys natural sleep rhythms by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day .
Optimize your bedroom for sleep. Make sure the room is dark , quiet, and cool.
Wind down with a relaxing bedtime routine. Try curling up in bed with a book, listening to calming music, or taking a hot bath .
Power down electronics 1-2 hours before bed. The blue light from screens suppresses sleep-promoting hormones and stimulates your brain.
Keep a sleep diary of RLS symptoms
Logging changes in your diet, lifestyle, sleep habits, and routine might help you make helpful connections between your daily activities and the quality of your sleep at night..
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What Does It Feel Like To Have Rls
Part of the reason RLS has traditionally been underrecognized is that the exact feelings it causes change from person to person and are sometimes difficult to pin down. RLS patients use the following terms to describe the sensations that they commonly feel inside the shin, or between the knee and ankle:
- Like having insects crawling inside the legs
For some people, these sensations are merely uncomfortable. For others, they may actually cause pain. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may occur occasionally, a few times a week, or every night. They may disappear for weeks or months at a time and then come back. The sensations are usually felt on both sides of the body, though some people may find they alternate back and forth or stay limited to one side. The severity of RLS symptoms generally increases with age.
People with RLS often resort to a variety of movements to get relief, such as stretching, rubbing or kicking the legs, as well as getting up and walking around. This constant movement makes it difficult to settle down for sleep. For some people, deep sleep is only possible in the early morning, when symptoms tend to be less severe. However, their symptoms present, individuals with RLS frequently report sleep problems and corresponding fatigue the next day.
Restless Leg Syndrome As A Symptom For Other Diseases
Aside from multiple sclerosis, restless leg syndrome can be a symptom of other diseases as well. A recent study revealed that restless leg syndrome can be a symptom of heart problems, kidney problems and stroke.
For the study 3,700 veterans with RLS were observed along with 3,700 healthy participants as controls. Both groups were followed for eight years. Researchers were specifically looking for outcomes of stroke and heart and kidney problems.
Restless leg syndrome has been found to increase the risk of stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Restless leg syndrome is a condition that causes a person to feel an overwhelming urge to move their legs when in an inclined position . Tingling, aching and itching sensations may occur as well. Continue reading
New research from the University of Vermont suggests that in mice models, salt intake may increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis . With the use of three genetically different groups of mice, researchers conducted their study. Continue reading
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What Is Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome , also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours, and are often most severe at night when a person is resting, such as sitting or lying in bed. They also may occur when someone is inactive and sitting for extended periods . Since symptoms can increase in severity during the night, it could become difficult to fall asleep or return to sleep after waking up. Moving the legs or walking typically relieves the discomfort but the sensations often recur once the movement stops. RLS is classified as a sleep disorder since the symptoms are triggered by resting and attempting to sleep, and as a movement disorder, since people are forced to move their legs in order to relieve symptoms. It is, however, best characterized as a neurological sensory disorder with symptoms that are produced from within the brain itself.
RLS is one of several disorders that can cause exhaustion and daytime sleepiness, which can strongly affect mood, concentration, job and school performance, and personal relationships. Many people with RLS report they are often unable to concentrate, have impaired memory, or fail to accomplish daily tasks. Untreated moderate to severe RLS can lead to about a 20 percent decrease in work productivity and can contribute to depression and anxiety. It also can make traveling difficult.