For those that suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS) they are well-aware of the symptoms, and since they usually are worse when laying down or sitting, any significant other is also aware. There are often sensations of feeling uncomfortable, sometimes an itchy, crawly or even pins and needles feeling that make them move their legs into alternate positions in an attempt to find a comfortable position to reduce or eliminate the sensations. These usually occur in the legs but they can also occur in other parts of the body including the arms.
RLS patients have an irresistible urge to move their legs (or other parts of the body). If the symptoms worsen at night, anyone that is sleeping in the same area will be placed in a position where they also cannot get any rest due to the constant movement. It is estimated that nearing ten percent of the population in the U.S. experience some form of RLS and it isn’t gender-specific. Many of the people that are affected are middle-aged or older, however, it can occur in young children.
The medical community doesn’t really have a reason for RLS, however, there are theories that it may be gene-related as many of those that suffer have family members that have also been diagnosed with the condition. There are some factors that seem to contribute to the disorder including certain chronic diseases and medical conditions including diabetes, iron deficiency and peripheral neuropathy. Some medications including antidepressants, anti-nausea and antihistamines can cause the symptoms to be worse. Conditions such as pregnancy can create the condition of RLS, especially in the final trimester, however these usually disappear around one month after delivery. Sleep deprivation and alcohol have also been associated as triggers for the condition.
Natural health practitioners will often recommend an array of treatments in lieu of potential harsh medications that can cause alternate medical problems. Some of these may include:
Alternating heat, cold and massage: These treatments will relax the muscles and may reduce the sensations and pain that is associated with RLS.
Since muscle tension and stress seem to be two triggers for the RLS symptoms, relaxation, meditation, and low impact stretching such as tai chi, yoga and walking can help in the reduction of the symptoms.
Establishing a sleep routine that is regular, relaxed and conducive to getting a good night’s rest. This means creating an environment of low lighting and retiring at a reasonable time.
Ensuring that you have a well-balanced diet may include the addition of dietary supplements to cover the need for minerals and vitamins including folic acid, iron vitamin B and magnesium. You will need to have a blood test from your primary care provider to confirm which vitamins may be recommended.
Alternately, the removal of alcohol from the system seems to have benefited some who have experienced RLS.
Always confer with a primary care physician prior to making any changes in lifestyle, including the addition of supplements, vitamins or any OTC product.