What Are The Complications Of Restless Legs Syndrome
This condition can have two main consequences: Disruption of sleep and social life.
- The person with restless legs syndrome has difficulty falling asleep and wakes up several times during the night to move their legs or even to get up and walk. This can cause insomnia in the affected person and discomfort in the person sharing the bed with them. Eventually, fatigue can occur during the day with sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and even mood disturbances .
- Restless legs syndrome can become embarrassing in social situations where one must sit still for a period of time and can also lead to sleep deprivation.
- It is possible to experience signs of restless legs syndrome several times a year without suffering from a true syndrome.
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.
- Was this article helpful?
Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosis
Thereâs no medical test for RLS. Your doctor might want to talk to your sleep partner about what theyâve noticed.
The five basic criteria for a diagnosis of RLS are:
- An overwhelming urge to move your legs, especially along with uncomfortable or unusual feelings
- An urge that starts or gets worse while youâre at rest
- An urge that goes away, either partly or totally, when you move
- An urge that starts or gets worse in the evening
- Another condition, such as leg cramps, arthritis, or muscle pains, isnât causing it
Your doctor may use lab tests to rule out other conditions. A neurological exam can check for nerve damage or blood vessel problems. A sleep study called polysomnography can tell them if you have other sleep disorders that might cause RLS.
Read Also: Garmin Vivofit 3 Sleep Tracking
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.
Restless Leg Syndrome Vs Sciatica
- Sciatica, also called sciatic nerve pain, causes pain running down the legs, usually from the lower back all the way to the feet. RLS and sciatic nerve pain are often confused.
- The primary cause of sciatica is a pinched nerve or herniated disc in the lower spine running along the sciatic nerve. Other causes of sciatica are spinal stenosis, infection, a broken pelvis or thighbone, or a tumor.
- According to Harvard Medical School, the biggest difference between these two conditions is that sciatica doesnt tend to get worse during sleep and then better again during the daytime, like restless leg syndrome usually does. Sciatica symptoms are also usually worsened from moving, coughing, bending, exercising, sneezing and physical activities that tug on the sciatic nerve.
- Some choose pain-reducing medications or even surgery to correct sciatic, but less invasive treatment options can also be very helpful. Treatments for sciatica include chiropractic spinal adjustments or spinal manipulation, stretching, acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy.
Precautions Regarding Restless Leg Syndrome
For some people, RLS gets worse with age, especially if underlying causes arent treated. Most of the time restless legs syndrome wont lead to a more serious health problem or pose any major risks, but its still important to keep an eye on progress of symptoms.
- Dizziness and signs of low blood sugar
- Chronic fatigue thats severe
- Numbness and tingling in your limbs thats severe
You May Like: How Does Fitbit Flex Track Sleep
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
A noninvasive procedure thats typically used to treat depression could be helpful in relieving RLS symptoms. So far, studies have been limited and more research is needed, but the results are promising (4, 41,
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic impulses to certain areas of the brain.
Its not entirely clear why rTMS could help relieve RLS symptoms. One theory is that the impulses increase the release of dopamine in the brain. Another suggests that rTMS could help calm the hyperarousal in parts of the brain that are associated with RLS .
In one 2015 study, 14 people with RLS were given 14 sessions of rTMS over 18 days. The sessions significantly improved their RLS symptoms and improved their sleep. The results lasted for at least two months after the treatment ended .
What Is Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Restless legs syndrome is a disorder that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs, usually to alleviate unpleasant sensations.
Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, RLS occurs when the legs are at rest and is typically most severe in the evening and night, potentially disrupting a person’s sleep and affecting daily activities.
You May Like: Does Weight Loss Help Sleep Apnea
Ruling Out Potential Causes
Your first step in addressing RLS should be to figure out if something is causing it. While RLS can be related to things that are largely out of your control, such as genetics or pregnancy, other possible factors can be addressed.
These factors could be daily habits, medications youre taking, health conditions you have, or other triggers.
Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is characterised by an irresistible urge to move, as a result of strange sensations in the legs, chest, face or arms. If it is in the legs, it usually affects the feet, thighs and calves.
Some individuals experience the symptoms of restless leg syndrome more frequently than others.
Sufferers of restless leg syndrome may describe the sensation in a number of ways:
- tingling, burning or throbbing in the muscles
- muscle ache
- an itch that cannot be scratched
- crawling sensation on the skin
- pins and needles
- a fizzing sensation inside the blood vessels
- leg cramp
This sensation typically gets worse when you are not active, such as when you are in bed or relaxing.
As a result, you may be forced to move the affected area throughout the night, or repeatedly get up and walk around. This can lead to feeling excessively tired in the daytime, or even insomnia.
You may also experience uncontrollable jerking or twitching in your sleep which can wake you up. This is known as Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep and can also contribute to sleep disturbance.
The movements are abrupt and can occur repeatedly throughout the night . Although less common, you might also experience this when you are awake and relaxed.
Read Also: Does Fitbit Track Sleep
Restless Leg Syndrome And Pregnancy
Symptoms of RLS can spring up for the first time during pregnancy, usually in the last trimester. Data suggests that pregnant women may have two or three times higher risk of RLS.
The reasons for this arent well-understood. Some possibilities are vitamin or mineral deficiencies, hormonal changes, or nerve compression.
Pregnancy can also cause leg cramps and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can be hard to distinguish from RLS. If youre pregnant and have symptoms of RLS, talk to your doctor. You may need to be tested for iron or other deficiencies.
You can also try some of these home care techniques:
- Avoid sitting still for prolonged periods, especially in the evening.
- Try to get a little exercise every day, even if its just an afternoon walk.
- Massage your legs or perform leg stretching exercises before bed.
- Try using heat or cold on your legs when theyre bothering you.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid antihistamines, caffeine, smoking, and alcohol.
- Make sure youre getting all the nutrients you need from your diet or from prenatal vitamins.
Some of the medications used to treat RLS are not safe to use during pregnancy.
RLS in pregnancy usually goes away on its own within weeks after giving birth. If it doesnt, see your doctor about other remedies. Be sure to mention if you are breast-feeding.
Solving The Mystery Of Restless Legs Syndrome: Acid
Its been called the most common disease nobodys heard of and also one of the big mysteries in medicine.
Its restless legs syndrome , a neurological and sleep disorder that causes discomfort and sometimes pain in the legs, particularly at night. It triggers a constant urge to move the legs that makes falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. And it can lead to other serious health problems, including depression.
RLS affects about 5-15% of adults in the United States. It shows up more as people age, occurs almost twice as often in women than men, and tends to run in families. Some studies have found a higher incidence of RLS among people with iron deficiency.
Yet for all that researchers know about it, RLS can be difficult to diagnose, in part because its symptoms overlap with other common conditions, such as nighttime leg cramps. Its also difficult to treat, as there are few effective medications or therapies for relieving the symptoms of the disorder, which has no known cure.
But a recent observational study found a link between the development of RLS and the use of certain prescription medications commonly used to reduce acid reflux. The study, published in the journal SLEEP, was funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute .
For now, he encourages anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of restless legs syndrome to see their doctor.
Recommended Reading: Does Zoloft Make You Lose Weight
Factors And Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome
Although restless legs syndrome is more common for people age 65 and older, it can develop at any age, even childhood. In fact, its estimated that between 5-15 percent of the adult population has or has experienced an episode of restless legs syndrome.
While there is no known cause for restless legs syndrome, research suggests it may be related to an imbalance of dopamine.
Some factors that can cause restless legs syndrome include:
Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can fluctuate in severity or go away for a period of time before returning.
Restless Legs Syndrome Brain Stimulation Study Supports Motor Cortex Excitability As A Cause
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say new experiments using magnetic pulse brain stimulation on people with moderate to severe restless legs syndrome have added to evidence that the condition is due to excitability and hyperarousal in the part of the brains motor cortex responsible for leg movement.
The researchers say their findings, published online in Sleep Medicine on May 31, may help devise safer, more effective ways to treat RLS and the chronic sleep deprivation it causes, using electrical or magnetic pulses to calm or interrupt the hyperarousal. Some 10 percent of adults in the U.S. experience RLS at one time or another, and about 1 in 500 report that the condition is severe and chronic enough to interfere with their quality of life, work productivity or mental health, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
People with severe RLS describe symptoms of the condition as an overwhelming urge to move their legs when they are at rest. They may feel pain, or the sensation of soda bubbles in their veins or worms crawling in their legs, with relief coming only when standing or deliberately moving their legs. Long-term effects include fatigue, anxiety and depression, much of it linked to repeated interruption of sound sleep. Standard treatments, which may carry significant side effects, include medications that behave like the neurotransmitter dopamine, opioids and anti-seizure drugs.
Read Also: Is It Better To Sleep On Hard Surface
Treatment Depends On The Story
Medical treatment is recommended when restless legs syndrome is seen. This is a neurology-related disease, but it does not occur by imaging methods. Diagnosis is made according to the complaints of the patients. Sometimes patients are given sleep tests. In these tests, the persons sleep time, leg movements during sleep are observed and diagnosed accordingly. If there is another disease that causes the syndrome, the underlying problem is treated first. The treatment is continued until the patients symptoms disappear.
Restless Legs Syndrome Causes
Doctors donât know what causes most cases of restless legs syndrome, but your genes might play a role. Nearly half of the people with RLS also have a family member with the condition.
It might also be tied to:
- Chronic diseases. Certain long-term medical conditions include RLS symptoms, including iron deficiency, Parkinsonâs disease, kidney failure or renal disease, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy.
- Medications. Some drugs might make symptoms worse, including anti-nausea meds, antipsychotics, some antidepressants, and cold and allergy medications that have antihistamines.
- Pregnancy. Some women have RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.
- Lifestyle. A lack of sleep or another sleep disorder like apnea can trigger symptoms or make them worse. So can alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine use.
Recommended Reading: Which Statement About Rem Sleep Is Incorrect
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.
Hidden Causes Of Restless Legs Syndrome
Science Based Amy Myers, MD
Amy Myers, M.D. is a functional medicine physician, trained and certified by The Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Myers earned her Doctor of Medicine at the LSU Health Science Center, and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Myers retired from her functional medicine clinic, Austin UltraHealth, where she served thousands of patients, to empower those who were failed by conventional medicine. Shes a 2x New York Times bestselling author, and the founder and CEO of the health & lifestyle e-commerce brand, Amy Myers MD®.
Have you laid in bed at night exhausted, yet unable to go to sleep because you constantly have the urge to move your legs? Unfortunately, this scenario, known as restless legs syndrome , is more common than you think. And it can be very frustrating.
Restless legs syndrome is a pretty basic condition that affects up to 10% of adults in the U.S. However, the cause of restless legs syndrome is hard to determine. Conventional medicine treats RLS with harsh medications such as Requip, Mirapex, Horizant, and Neupro.1 These medications have harsh side effects such as stomach pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Whats more is that it doesnt get to the root cause of your restless legs syndrome.
Don’t Miss: Does Zoloft Cause Insomnia
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
More often than not, the cause of RLS is a mystery. There may be a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger.
More than 40 percent of people with RLS have some family history of the condition. In fact, there are five gene variants associated with RLS. When it runs in the family, symptoms usually start before age 40.
There may be a connection between RLS and low levels of iron in the brain, even when blood tests show that your iron level is normal.
RLS may be linked to a disruption in the dopamine pathways in the brain. Parkinsons disease is also related to dopamine. That may explain why many people with Parkinsons also have RLS. Some of the same medications are used to treat both conditions. Research on these and other theories is ongoing.
Its possible that certain substances like caffeine or alcohol can trigger or intensify symptoms. Other potential causes include medications to treat:
Primary RLS isnt related to an underlying condition. But RLS can actually be an offshoot of another health problem, like neuropathy, diabetes, or kidney failure. When thats the case, treating the main condition may resolve RLS issues.
There are certain things that may put you in a higher risk category for RLS. But its uncertain if any of these factors actually cause RLS.
Some of them are:
Having RLS can affect your overall health and quality of life. If you have RLS and chronic sleep deprivation, you may be a higher risk of:
- heart disease