A restless leg syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition wherein you experience an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This condition affects up to 10 percent of Americans. This can begin at any age and worsens with age.
Anyone can experience restless leg syndrome, however, it is more common in women and middle-aged people.
Some doctors consider this condition a sleep disorder as it can affect sleep patterns and disrupt your sleep.
This usually happens or gets worse when you are at rest. This may make you have trouble sleeping or sitting down for a long time.
This condition may get worse if not treated, as well as, affect your day-to-day activities.
There are times where doctors don’t recognize a restless leg syndrome, especially if their symptoms are mild.
This condition usually happens more often in the evening nighttime hours when you are sitting or lying down.
Thus, you will have to move your leg to temporarily ease the unpleasant feeling.
There are some symptoms associated with a restless leg syndrome, these are:
Tingling, itching, or crawling sensations occurring in the legs, and may also occur in the arms.
Uncontrollable urge to move the limbs to ease the uncomfortable sensations.
Experiencing restlessness such as tossing and turning in the bed, floor pacing, or rubbing the legs.
These symptoms may only happen when you are lying or sitting down. Or instead, the symptoms worsen while lying down or sitting.
Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness
Experiencing repetitive jerking limb movements that occur during your sleep or at rest. These are called periodic leg movements of sleep.
Some people with restless leg syndrome do not occur every night, instead, it comes and goes.
The condition might go weeks or months without any symptoms before ir returns again.
The causes of restless legs syndrome are not specifically known. This condition may be related to abnormalities in brain chemicals which help regulate muscle movements.
This can sometimes be caused by an underlying condition. There are many different medical conditions that have been linked to RLS.
The most common conditions are peripheral neuropathy — damage to the nerves of the arms and legs, and iron-deficiency anemia.
Here are the medical conditions linked to restless leg syndrome:
Hyper- or hypothyroidism (over- or underactive thyroid glands)
Vitamin and mineral deficiency, such as magnesium deficiency and vitamin B-12 deficiency
Severe kidney disease and uremia (kidney failure causing build up of toxins within the body)
Amyloidosis (build-up of a starch-like substance in the body's tissues and organs)
Damage to spinal nerves
Rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren syndrome
Certain medications or substances, such as:
Beta-blockers (drugs often used to treat high blood pressure)
Withdrawal from certain drugs, such as vasodilator drugs, sedatives, or antidepressants
There are several natural remedies for a restless leg syndrome:
Just like calcium, magnesium is also essential for bone and muscle health. Magnesium is a beneficial mineral for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
This may also help alleviate restless legs and is also a natural muscle relaxant. You can consume magnesium through taking magnesium supplements or by eating magnesium-rich foods.
Since magnesium can cause side effects, like diarrhea, it is advisable to begin with small doses at about 200-400 mg a day.
Foods that are high in magnesium include:
Dark green vegetables
Nuts (almonds, cashew, brazil)
Seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
Whole grain cereals
Warm And Cold Compress
A heated or cooled pad is both used for temporarily relieving inflammation and pain. Many people suffering from a restless leg find that heat improves their condition.
You can do this by soaking a towelette or piece of cloth in hot water then just applying it directly on the affected area or just buy a heating pad at a pharmacy.
On the other hand, there are some people that find relief from cold temperatures. Do this by wrapping a piece of ice with a thick cloth or buy a cold compress at a store.
Doing deep breathing, stretching, and relaxation are great ways to decrease the symptoms of a restless leg.
Yoga has already been scientifically proven to help aid in several conditions.
Studies have proved that practicing regular yoga reduces back pain, lower heart rates and blood pressure,as well as, reduces anxiety and depression.
A study involving a group of women with moderate to severe RLS to try an 8-week long yoga practice.
The women reported that regular Iyengar yoga practice greatly relieved their symptoms. You can try doing yoga at home by watching online tutorials.
A simple massage can help decrease a restless leg syndrome. Professional techniques like a Swedish massage works, but so does a simple calf massage.
Massaging works by increasing the amount of dopamine in urine. This decreases RLS discomfort by increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the organ tissues through improved circulation.
Avoid Drinking Caffeine
Caffeine is known to be a trigger for a restless leg syndrome. Though caffeine is a great source of keeping you awake and giving you a boost of energy.
If you have a restless leg syndrome, be sure to avoid these caffeinated drinks:
Cola and certain soft drinks
Some over-the-counter weight loss aides, and
Certain flavored liquids for electronic cigarettes.
Avoid Smoking Tobacco
Tobacco is also another substance that can trigger symptoms of RLS or make them worse.
Smoking tobacco in general, doesn’t give any benefits to your body, especially if you have this condition.
Nicotine is a stimulant that affects the nervous system. Abstain from nicotine use of all types including smoking cigarettes and cigars and chewing tobacco.
Herbal teas such as chamomile and passionflower can help create relaxation and promote better sleep.
In addition to that, herbal teas are beneficial for your mind and body. You can have a cup of tea before bedtime. Make sure the tea you’re drinking does not contain caffeine.