Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS a very common disorder that is part of the nervous system that causes an urge to move the legs. Because it usually interferes with ones sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder. Disrupted sleep is the most frequent reason RLS patients seek medical assistance. In most cases the urge is immediately relieved when movement has taken place. The urge sets in during the evening, especially upon going to bed and thus it can interfere with going to sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Uncomfortable sensation in legs (sometimes arms or other parts of the body .Irresistible urge to move your legs to relieve the sensation. This will cause an uncomfortable "itchy," "pins and needles," or "creepy crawly" feeling. Sensations are usually worst when resting especially when lying down or sitting. RLS symptoms ranges from mild to intolerable. Symptoms can come and go and the severity can also vary. Some people find that the symptoms are generally worse in the evening, and may cause severe nightly sleep disruption.

People with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome will do change their lifestyle , such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Patients can reduce their symptoms by destressing and relaxing their muscles, such as with massage or warm baths. Supplements such as MSM and Magnesium can also help reduce cramps and inflammation.

Book a consultation with our Health Renewal doctors for Restless Legs syndrome.

Restless Legs Syndrome not only has physical, but also psychological symptoms too. Sleepless nights and mental anguish contribute to a considerable physical and psychological burden. Unfortunately, by using conventional drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat psychological effects associated with RLS, might trigger or even worsen RLS symptoms. Pharmaceutical treatment strategies, such as dopaminergic medications, can offer relief for RLS.

The relationship between sleep disturbances, such as those incurred by patients with RLS and PLMS (Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep) and the increased risk for hypertension and vascular diseases comes from clinical investigations into such risks in patients with insomnia and OSA. PLMS often accompany RLS and their occurrence frequently results in arousals from sleep. Shortened sleep also has been associated with increased risk for CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD). We have found that patients with insomnia have a blunted nocturnal BP dipping response that may increase the risk of higher BP, CV risk and target organ damage.

Interesting enough there are two types of Restless Leg Syndromes:

  • Primary and secondary.
  • Primary RLS has no known cause, secondary RLS is normally linked back to another medical ailment. 

Primary Restless Leg Syndrome:

The exact cause of primary RLS is unknown. However we have found that a genetic component is present in approximately 40 to 50 percent of patients with primary RLS and those individuals have a family history of the disorder. Primary RLS is thought to be a disease of the peripheral nervous system, but we have reason to believe that the central nervous system may also be involved.

Secondary Restless Leg Syndrome:

Secondary RLS has been associated with several medical conditions. If you have one or more of these conditions in addition to RLS, you have secondary RLS. The following tests can be used blood tests, nerve studies, and vascular studies to determine whether a secondary cause is likely.

Conditions that may cause secondary RLS include:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Kidney failure
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress, sleep deprivation, and other environmental factors
  • Varicose veins
  • Diabetes 

Iron: Restoring iron levels in the body also helps to restore dopamine in the brain, experts believe that it may help reduce RLS symptoms. Due to the link between iron deficiency or altered iron metabolism in the brain and RLS, one of the more common alternative treatments for RLS is iron supplementation .Oral iron supplementation has been found to significantly ameliorate RLS in patients with low-normal levels of iron it is also beneficial for treating RLS in the elderly people particularly those with low iron levels .Intravenous iron supplementation in the form of iron dextran has also been found to significantly reduce RLS symptoms. It is important that only those with a blood test-verified iron deficiency should take supplemental iron.

Folate: Folate deficiencies may also play a role in the development of RLS. Pregnancy often precipitates signs of RLS and folate levels are of paramount importance during pregnancy for healthy fetal development. We have also found that pregnant women with low folate levels are more likely to develop RLS, whereas women who take vitamins during pregnancy are less likely to develop RLS. Low levels of folate can also play a role in non-pregnant RLS patients.

Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium can cause neurons to become more easily excited. This can affecting a person’s mental status. Magnesium supplements are often used to stabilize neuronal membranes and prevent abnormal activity in the nervous system. Magnesium supplements has been studied as a treatment for RLS. It has been proven that magnesium supplements were able to relieve symptoms of RLS and improve sleep

Green Coffee Extract: Diabetes is a well-known risk factor for secondary RLS. However, less appreciated is that pre-diabetes – subclinical elevations in blood sugar – may also cause RLS. Maintaining a healthy glucose diet, even for those not diagnosed with diabetes, may be helpful in RLS. Green coffee extract, represents a powerful tool for those aiming to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff