Home Care Tips For Restless Legs Syndrome
The following approaches can reduce symptoms in patients with mild or moderate RLS and may be used in combination with medication in RLS patients who have severe symptoms.
- Sleep hygiene: Good sleep hygiene means maintaining a bedroom environment and a daily routine that supports high-quality sleep. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine is especially important for RLS patients because these substances can worsen symptoms.
- Exercise: Because physical inactivity often triggers RLS symptoms, exercise may be helpful. A research study found that RLS patients showed af 39% reduction in symptom severity after six weeks of engaging in an exercise program compared to an 8% symptom reduction in patients who did not exercise.
- Pneumatic pressure therapy: Pneumatic compression devices increase blood flow to the legs by filling with air to squeeze the legs. Researchers found that the device improved RLS symptoms, quality-of-life, and fatigue after one month of daily use compared to a control group.
- Massage and hot baths: Using massage and hot baths to stimulate the legs is widely recommended in RLS literature however, there is limited scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of these methods at this time.
Learn more about treating RLS here.
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The Timing Of Rls Onset May Be A Factor
It appears that the time you first experience RLS may affect the likelihood youll have pain symptoms.3
- People who experience RLS in childhood through adolescence usually have less pain .
- People who experience RLS only as adults may experience more issues with pain related to neurological problems or medications.
Of course, exceptions exist in either case. Whats consistent is the ongoing link between RLS and pain.
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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The Mistake Of Calling Rls ‘growing Pains’
Its worth noting that children and teens with undiagnosed RLS may sometimes be told theyre experiencing growing pains, the term itself dismissing the problem as temporary and normal.
Not so fast. Some research points to links between musculoskeletal pain and RLS in young people. Dimensions of pain they experience have been associated with lifelong chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.5
Not only is it inaccurate to call these painful sensations growing pains, but when complaints of pain are dismissed by parents and doctors, these young people face barriers to medical care as well as pain relief so necessary for a good nights sleep.
What Are The Good Things About Diltiazem For Restless Leg Syndrome
Diltiazem is used to treat muscle spasms of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, blood vessels, heart, and other organs. Diltiazem also treats high blood pressure and angina . In addition, the drug slows conduction through your hearts electrical system. Instruct your doctor if you develop new or worsening symptoms of restlessness.
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The Myers Way Multivitamin
The first supplement I always recommend everyone take is a high-quality multivitamin. The Myers Way® Multivitamin is designed for optimal absorption and bioavailability. I custom-formulated The Myers Way® Multivitamin to provide the widest range possible of the most critical vitamins and minerals in their most usable forms, which means methylated B vitamins, including 500 mcg of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg of folate to promote a healthy inflammatory response. My multivitamin does not have iron in it, so its important to eat enough iron rich foods such as grass-fed beef, free-range, organic chicken, and wild-caught salmon.
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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.
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Making simple lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of RLS:
- Try baths and massages. Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can relax your muscles.
- Apply warm or cool packs. Use of heat or cold, or alternating use of the two, may lessen your limb sensations.
- Establish good sleep hygiene. Fatigue tends to worsen symptoms of RLS, so it’s important that you practice good sleep hygiene. Ideally, have a cool, quiet, comfortable sleeping environment go to bed and rise at the same time daily and get at least seven hours of sleep nightly.
- Exercise. Getting moderate, regular exercise may relieve symptoms of RLS, but overdoing it or working out too late in the day may intensify symptoms.
- Avoid caffeine. Sometimes cutting back on caffeine may help restless legs. Try to avoid caffeine-containing products, including chocolate, coffee, tea and soft drinks, for a few weeks to see if this helps.
- Consider using a foot wrap. A foot wrap specially designed for people with RLS puts pressure under your foot and may help relieve your symptoms.
Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome
The primary symptom of RLS is the urge to move the legs. Other symptoms that a person may notice are:
- Urges to move the legs usually begin at night or when one is already in bed
- Urges get worse when sitting still for a long time
- The urges get better and are relieved by getting up and walking around
- Twitching or kicking of the legs during sleep
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What Is Restless Leg Syndrome
- You may experience difficultly sitting for a longer period, and usually, symptoms occur in the evening, making it difficult to sleep.
- If RLS is not treated, it may worsen and lead to sleepless nights, which can lead to trouble at work or home over time.
RLS is seen among all age groups and gender with almost 10 percent of the United States population affected by the condition. Women in their 40s and 50s are more likely to have severe symptoms.
This disease may go unnoticed or be misdiagnosed for years, especially if symptoms are minor or don’t occur frequently. However, once detected, therapy may help relieve the symptoms.
Can Alcohol Worsen Restless Leg Syndrome
Alcohol use probably worsens RLS, but more research is necessary to say with certainty. Restlessness and twitching are certainly symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, too. Even though no one currently knows for sure if alcohol causes RLS, drinking alcohol can either worsen or mimic RLS symptoms.
Alcohol use and RLS are interrelated in several ways, including through alcohol withdrawal, how alcohol affects sleep and how alcohol use at night can worsen RLS symptoms.
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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.
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Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
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Avoid Extended Periods Of Inactivity
Sitting still for too long can make the symptoms of RLS worse, so try to break up periods of sitting with movement or stretches.
- Find or create a work setting where you can be active. If you work at an office, look into a desk that lets you stand and type, or walk while talking on the phone.
- Tell friends, family, and coworkers why you have to move around more than others. Theyll likely try to accommodate you and want to help you create a healthy environment.
- Schedule activities that may require long periods of sittingsuch as car journeys, flights, or waiting for appointmentsin the morning rather than late in the day.
- Choose an aisle seat at movies and on planes so that you can get up and move.
- Give yourself stretch breaks at work and during long car rides.
Other Restless Legs Triggers
Other health conditions can also cause restless legs. This is whats called secondary restless legs syndrome:
- Pregnancy. According to Dr. Avidan, about 20 percent of pregnant women report restless legs symptoms. This is more likely in the last three months of pregnancy, and iron deficiency is usually the culprit. If symptoms crop up when youre expecting, your doctor will probably test the level of iron in your blood and prescribe iron supplements if its too low. The good news is that your restless legs symptoms will probably go away soon after you have your baby.
- Medical conditions. Restless legs symptoms are also seen in some people with kidney failure and diabetes. Treating these conditions will often calm the restless legs.
The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation suggests using a sleep diary to pinpoint your personal triggers and gauge the severity of your symptoms. Always tell your doctor if your symptoms get noticeably worse.
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Living With Restless Leg Syndrome
Keep your doctor posted on how youre feeling. He or she can suggest different relaxation techniques and can change your medicine if its not helping. You may want to join a support group to talk to other people who are suffering from RLS. Also, because RLS tends to run in families, you may want to talk to your relatives about your RLS and see if they have similar symptoms.
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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Goodfellow Gem: Dopamine Agonists May Be Effective For Restless Legs
Restless legs syndrome is defined as an urge to move legs often accompanied by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs. Check ferritin and reverse iron deficiency first. Tools for Practice1 reported on a systematic review on pramipexole. Dopamine agonists can be considered as first-line treatment for restless legs syndrome but be aware of adverse effects such as augmentation , loss of impulse control, and drowsiness. Initiate treatment with pramipexole starting dose 0.25 mg, maximal dose 0.75 mg. The NNT is about 5. Ropinirole is another option, with a starting dose of 0.125 mg, maximal dose 4 mg orally once daily 2 hours before bedtime. These medications are also used in treating Parkinsons Disease, and both are funded in New Zealand.
Reference: A good sleep would be dop doc! Pramipexole in restless legs syndrome Tools for Practice #275, 2020
How Long Will Restless Legs Syndrome Last
Symptoms of primary or idiopathic RLS typically worsen over time, but, for some people, weeks or months may pass without any symptoms. If the RLS stems from a condition, illness, pregnancy, or medication, it may go away as soon as the trigger has gone.
RLS can pose problems for women during pregnancy.
Women who already have RLS can find that symptoms get worse during pregnancy. However, becoming pregnant can lead to RLS in its own right. Symptoms tend to get worse as the pregnancy progresses and are especially likely in the third trimester.
The cause of the increased incidence of RLS during pregnancy is unknown, but the following factors are believed to be involved:
- low levels of minerals or vitamins, such as iron and folate
- sleep deprivation as a result of changes in the body and discomfort
- changes in the hormones
- increased sensitivity of the senses
This condition has not been widely researched during pregnancy. However, some of the drug treatments used outside of pregnancy, such as rotigotine and gabapentin, have not been assessed for safe use in women who are pregnant.
Behavioral treatments, such as mild exercise and a healthy sleeping pattern, are often recommended as a first-line treatment for women during pregnancy.
If iron levels are low and thought to be the cause of RLS, oral iron supplements are safe to prescribe during pregnancy. In severe cases, higher concentrations may be administered intravenously through a drip.
There are two main types of RLS:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Rls
Sensations occur when you lie down or sit for a prolonged time. This causes:
The need to move the legs for temporary relief of symptoms by:
Stretching or bending
Dopaminergic agents which are largely used to treat Parkinson’s disease
Benzodiazepines such as clonazepam and diazepam
Opioids such as codeine, propoxyphene, or oxycodone
Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin and pregabalin
Consult your doctor for more information regarding the treatment of restless legs syndrome.
Foods That Cause Restless Leg Syndrome
Apart from alcohol and caffeine, there are several other foods that cause restless leg syndrome symptoms, such as processed foods, fatty, fried foods, soda, and anything high in sugar. Obese people are more prone to RLS, given the fact that it is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and lose dopamine receptors.
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Alcohols Impact On Sleep
Drinking alcohol disrupts rapid eye movement sleep. An important type of rest, REM sleep is the deep restorative sleep that people need to function normally during the day. When someone abuses alcohol, they usually get poor sleep and can feel tired all the time. A lack of restorative sleep can make RLS symptoms feel more intolerable and annoying, especially when RLS symptoms flare up at night and when a person is trying to sleep.