Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition, believed to be associated with chemical imbalances of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine controls muscle movement in the body. When there is an imbalance, the muscles in the legs (and sometimes arms) seem to move uncontrollably. RLS affects millions of people worldwide and typically worsens with age.
Other causes of RLS are related to genetics or hormonal imbalances. Research has shown that RLS existing before age 50 is usually hereditary, and changes in hormones while pregnant may worsen symptoms.
Signs of Restless Leg Syndrome
RLS is experienced differently by people and symptoms vary from slightly annoying to unbearable, as RLS sometimes prevents adequate sleep. RLS symptoms include:
- A strong urge to move when still
- Sensations in the legs when sitting still or lying down
- Sensations are explained as an itching, crawling, or throbbing feeling
- Movement helps relieve urges
- Aches and pains
Symptoms often worsen at night and many experience kicking and twitching in the legs when they are asleep. This movement often wakes people up or makes it hard to fall asleep.
Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome
RLS is often relieved with at-home treatment and methods. Occasionally, doctors may prescribe medications such as anticonvulsants or antianxiety drugs to relieve urges and promote sleep. Conversely, some medications that affect dopamine levels may be causing RLS; always check with a doctor if these symptoms develop. When possible, trying natural methods is always best. Try at-home approaches such as:
- Maintain moderate exercise—this doesn’t mean overdoing it every day at gym, simply maintain a healthy weight and get your workouts in.
- Eat healthy and don’t overindulge. Sugary foods, caffeine, and alcohol generate symptoms of RLS.
- Try stretching and massaging the legs before you go to bed. A hot shower is also beneficial for relaxing muscles.
- Maintain a normal sleep pattern. Try going to sleep at the same time every night and waking at the same time in the morning, even on the weekends.
RLS is not a life-threatening, but it can take a mental and physical toll on many inflicted with the condition. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms related to RLS, try managing at home with the tips above.
If symptoms are moderate to severe, contact our office at Goldman Vein Institute. Our specialists are leading experts in RLS and venous conditions.