Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a difficult condition that causes uncomfortable leg sensations and an irresistible urge to move your legs, problems that occur when you lay down to rest. You may not think of going to the Board Certified Vein and Vascular Specialists serving the areas of Crestview Hills, KY, Northern Kentucky, and Cincinnati, OH, but more than one-third of patients with RLS have a chronic vein disorder. When the vein condition is treated, your RLS improves. To get expert help for RLS, call the office or book an appointment online.
Restless Legs Q & A
What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?
RLS is a neurological movement disorder that gives you the uncontrollable urge to move your legs. You also experience unpleasant sensations from deep within your leg. Patients describe these sensations as itching, pulling, creeping, aching, and crawling. You may also feel an electric-shock type of sensation.
The need to move your legs starts when you lie down to rest and after you sit for an extended time. Leg twitching increases as you fall asleep, often continuing during the night and interrupting your sleep. Most patients feel better when they stretch, walk, or move their legs.
What causes restless legs syndrome?
In many cases, an underlying cause can’t be determined. Your risk of developing RLS is higher if you have a family history of the condition.
Medical experts believe that the condition is associated with an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine, which regulates muscle movement. RLS often develops in patients with:
- Iron deficiency
- Low vitamin D
- Kidney failure
- Chronic venous insufficiency
More than one-third of patients with RLS have chronic venous insufficiency. Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when blood accumulates in your veins due to damaged or weak valves.
These valves normally keep blood flowing up your legs toward your heart. When a valve doesn’t work, the blood flows backward, causing problems such as varicose veins and leg swelling.
How is restless legs syndrome treated?
Your Vascular & Interventional Associates provider diagnoses RLS with a physical exam and a thorough evaluation of your symptoms. They may also perform a neurological exam and order blood tests to check for an iron deficiency and other underlying health problems.
The first step is to determine if you have a vein condition or health problem that could cause your RLS. Treating any underlying health issues usually relieves RLS symptoms.
If you don’t have an identifiable cause, your treatment primarily consists of medications. Your provider prescribes one of several medications to reduce restlessness, including muscle relaxants and drugs that balance brain chemicals.
Lifestyle changes can also provide some relief. Soaking in a warm bath, massaging your legs, and using warm or cold packs can all help your RLS symptoms. You may also reduce your symptoms by getting regular exercise. However, keep your activity level moderate because intensive exercise may only make your symptoms worse.
If you struggle with RLS, call Vascular & Interventional Associates or book an appointment online.
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